Carlos Eduardo Moreno

Carlos Eduardo Moreno
Colombia

Coming to Estonia...
Everything started when my wife decided to marry that nice, yet very reserved, Estonian guy. He, in turn, invited his friends over to Colombia for the wedding. In the group, there was a girl who called my attention, we talked, liked each other, and had to say good bye after a month. She went back to cold Tallinn to continue with her work and I stayed in Bogota working at the National University. After eight months of extensive online communication, my contract at the university finished and I was able to join here. That was five years ago! J

Before coming here...
When I arrived, the vision I had of Estonia was completely different, some of my brother-in-law’s friends had told me that I would get lots of help from locals to learn the language and everything would be just ok. Their version was maybe too optimistic. The first months were not easy, I could not understand why people were so impolite to each other and why neighbours wouldn’t greet when I had just said ‘tere’ in my broken Estonian. It is unfortunate that people decide to choose these attitudes! Some people say that it is because of the weather or the history of occupations.. I don’t know what it is! The only thing I know is that Estonia is a very beautiful place with a promising future.. There are more reasons to be happy and grateful than unhappy and afraid of each other! In any case, I need to say that , overall, I very much feel Estonia as my second home! My daughter is half-Estonian, and I am very committed to the future of this country!

Student life in Estonia...
According to my experience as a MA student and then as a lecturer in Tallinn University, I must say that sometimes Estonian students are a bit too passive. It seems like they are expecting the teacher to do most of the effort in their educational experience, from autonomous research to class participation. This is not generalized, of course, but it’s something I have witnessed during the last four years. Maybe the explanation lies in the fact that their experiences at school have left a long-lasting trace in their understanding of both education and learning. In this context, the teacher is supposed to be ‘all-mighty’, while the student is ignorant and seems not to have a major role in their learning process. In Colombia, the situation is not better, but my home university has a tradition of proactive debate between teachers and students. Maybe the reason could be found in the influence of the liberation pedagogy on the students from the 1960s and 1970s who work as teachers nowadays. Nevertheless, I have to acknowledge that most of the lectures at the Estonian Institute of Humanities promote the active participation of students in their educational processes. It will take some time, but I am positive in that it will be possible to spread the same philosophy to the lower levels of the educational system.

Studying in Estonia...
Academically speaking, I think my Estonian experience has been very positive. I had the chance to study at the MA level and attended very interesting lectures with both foreign and Estonian teachers. Personally, it has been a process of self-recognition and growth. Both positive and negative experiences have helped me to bring the best of myself and provided opportunities to learn from Estonian culture and share my own culture. This experience has provided me with the chance to learn the value of divergent thought and respectful dialogue. I now have an Estonian family, some Estonian friends, and my Estonian is improving on a daily basis. Besides, I discovered and became fan of sauna, I cannot live without it!

Best things that have happened to me in Estonia...
I have definitively benefited from my studies in Estonia. I had the fortune of receiving support from the Estonian Science Foundation project “Imagining the future: nation and state-making in comparative perspective” (grant number ESF-7360) under the coordination of professor Lorenzo Cañas-Bottos. As part of this project, I was able to gather a comprehensive theoretical review of the literature on anthropology of education needed for my MA thesis. I did my fieldwork in a public school in Estonia on the relation between ethnic integration and education as a political tool, which allowed me to finish my MA paper (“It really isn’t up to us”: Integration Narratives at a Secondary School in Estonia), entitling me to graduate within the two years required for the programme.

I would tell others...
I would tell them that they need to be patient during the first months in the country. Most of students will ignore them and not be interested in their experiences and cultural background; but after a while, once the locals get used to the ‘new face’, the experience will become a very rewarding one, and they will be able to get the best from the ‘Estonian experience’, including days with -28 degrees in winter and sunny evenings in summer :)

My degree programme is...
Social and Cultural Anthropology at EHI (Tallinn University Estonian Institute of Humanities): Fascinating. Interesting. Challenging. Demanding. Enriching. Time-taking. Culturally-aware. Multicultural.

While being away from my home country, I miss the most...
Unlike what might be thought, it is not the weather, I actually like Estonian weather very much, but darkness is certainly awful!! Mostly, I miss three things: my family, food, and dancing. Fortunately, my parents come to Estonia quite often, but I haven’t seen my grandparents for three years! On the other hand, although I like Estonian food, in Colombia we regularly make fresh fruit juice. Some of those fruits can actually be bought from some shops in Estonia, but they are so expensive, while some other fruits are not even known here! Finally, whenever there is a party in Colombia, people dance... we learn how to dance salsa, merengue and vallenato when we are 6 years old. In Estonia, people prefer to talk, eat and drink, but rarely dance. I very much missing dancing!

Studying is in Estonia is an international experience...
I think it provides students and teachers with a sense of internationalism and multiculturalism which is very important in our nowadays-polarized world! Unfortunately, I feel that Erasmus, the closest possibility for European students to know about other cultures, is perceived more as a possibility for partying away from parents than actually a chance to make connections in order to tackle contemporary challenges. I would love to see how Erasmus students (as so-called ‘first world’ students) get together, discuss, and make proposals to address social issues not only in Europe, but also in other parts of the world.

My future plans...
At this moment, I have a contract until June with the Language Centre at Tallinn University. Besides, I am working as an educational consultant for AS Audentes in the implementation of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme. We will have an accreditation visit in May and, if everything goes as expected, I will be working in Estonia for at least two more years as a Theory of Knowledge coordinator and teacher of Social and Cultural Anthropology. On the other hand, I would like to travel and work in another continent, learn another language and new cultural practices. Eventually, I will come back to Estonia with my family sometime in the future, given that it has become my second home :)

The last thing I want to say...
No tengan miedo, es complicado en el principio, pero puede convertirse en una experiencia muy positiva y que exige que desarrollemos lo mejor en nosotros mismos! Las posibilidades están allí. Estonia es un país pequeño, lo que hace que, cuando existe la suficiente confianza, uno se sienta como en un pequeño pueblito en el que todos se conocen con todos! Esto permite que las relaciones personales fluyan y se abran nuevas posibilidades de desarrollo profesional. Por otro lado, el programa de Antropología en la Universidad de Tallin es muy bueno, con profesores extranjeros y un ambiente académico de compañerismo y desarrollo colectivo.

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