Neeme RAND, Director of the Kuressaare Ametikool
He was 25 years old when he became Headmaster of the school, which then consisted of only 200 pupils. At 36 years, he is still director and the school now has 800 students. And this is not all. Neeme Rand is from a race of gamblers. Since 2000 in Berlin, when he proposed his candidature for the event, he was not certain that he could create a true representation of the Christmas in Europe experience. Now, yes!
With a smile, Neeme Rand replied to my questions without evasion.
Was it difficult to organise such an event?
(With a thoughtful look,)
"Yes, it was. The first difficulty is that the rules have not been clearly established. But here in Kuressaare, we have had a meeting to formalise all that. The other difficulty has been to find sponsors. But, in fact as everyone knew the school and we them, it was a little easier. And also, the Christmas in Europe event permitted us to promote Estonia. When we returned from Berlin, I explained this to everyone. Jane who was responsible for the organisation was in Rhodes where she was able to see the difficulties first hand. Finally, Martha and the other Department Heads, each took charge of their specific part. Our success is to have made a true expression of teamwork. There have also been more than 200 students and over 20 teachers involved. "
Was it difficult to organise the participation of the Minister?
"Not at all. I have a good relationship with the Ministry. I sent and invitation and she agreed to attend. In addition, the Ministry of Education gave us a grant of euro 2600 for the program. You should know that all the workers, since the change in 1992 are young. Nothing is truly complicated. Haven’t you yourself noticed the youth of Ms Rand?"
Did you get enough funding?
"Yes, I think. We hope to be able to balance the budget. The greatest part came from our sponsors whom I would like to thank here. Without them it would not have been possible to organise such an event. But I was confident that all would go well. And then, I believed that many of the benefits would come from the school directly.
Are you happy to have arrived at the end of the project?
"Oh yes, very. We are happy that all has gone well. And obviously, we hope that all these people who have discovered Estonia will be interested in returning. That is the biggest wish we have."
Louis ROBERT, President of the AEHT.
As one of the last acts of his presidency, Louis Robert has come here to discover Christmas in Europe for himself. And yes, he has not been disappointed, which he tells us without reservation.
"I am truly astonished. This event has made a very strong impression on me on all of its parts. And I must say that I have not before taken the true measure of this event. It (turning) is only possible through the efforts of it initiator, Christiane Keller. But now, I have seen it. It is magnificent. It takes second place in the annual events of the AEHT. We should make it possible for more schools to participate.
Also, this Christmas in Europe has allowed me to discover another country. Estonia has been an unknown country. But it is necessary to remember that this is one of those at the door of Europe. I have noticed that Estonia has had much sorrow and that in only ten years it has blazed a path. It is necessary to honour them for holding fast to all the traditions, which have been more or less forbidden. Moreover, I have found a warm and genuine welcome in Kuressaare. I would like to say a great thank you to Neeme Rand and all is team for this organisation without fault. This Christmas in Europe will long remain a powerful memory…."
Christiane Keller, Founder of Christmas in Europe
From the 1st in Kayserberg in 1992 to this 11th in Kuressaare, 2002, Christmas in Europe has travelled far. For Christiane Keller originator of this magnificent European event, there are many areas of satisfaction.
"In spite of the real difficulties of getting to Kuressaare, the smallness of this little village was a veritable plus. All of the movement has been on foot: between the school, the Cultural Centre and accommodation. Taken together, I have the sense of a true work of organisation in preparation. Everything seems so well oiled. I only regret the last minute cancellations of some schools.
I am also very happy that the President and the Secretary General of the AEHT have participated for the first time in this Christmas in Europe, and that working with Neeme Rand, we have finally been able to set out a charter, which will govern future editions of Christmas in Europe.
Via the management of the participating teams, the cultural program and European buffet have included nearly all the participants. This has truly permitted us to highlight the differences of each culture in a simple fashion. Against this, I regret that the exposition did not produce exactly the spirit of the event. One should not forget that the exposition – which is regarded as a frank success here – is open to the public which should be able to discover there something of the uniqueness of each country. Consequently, it is up to all members of each team to make the necessary research.
And if you will permit me, I would like to say that I hope it is not long before Estonia enters the European Union, and finally. ‘Estonia, you Estoni-shed us!’
Tommas ROSSUM (The Netherlands) (Photo 1281)
At 17 years, Tommas does not pass by unnoticed, particularly in his make-up as the acolyte of his director, alias Sint Nicholas from his school in Wageningen. A 2nd year patisserie student, he is delighted to be in the delegation. He does not contain his pleasure. "This Christmas in Europe is truly great. I have made contacts with others, especially from France and Sweden. Here I provided information about my school, I helped to prepare the buffet and as you see in my disguise, I have been part of all the activities. I am especially sorry to leave. I believe the region is beautiful!"
Malgorzata KANICKA and Maciej BRYLSKI
The first is a hotel and gastronomy student, the other is in Marketing Management. Both are 20 years old. They study in the Hotel School of Poznan, Poland which hosted the 2001 edition of Christmas in Europe. Both are enthusiastic about what they found in Estonia. "The atmosphere is so warm, they chorused in unison. We have made many contacts since the first night of our arrival, even with the Estonians. And then, all is so well organised. The excursion today was truly brilliant1 We had so much fun. And in our meetings the Estonians are so sympathetic."
A 20 year old Savoyarde and culinary student, Emilie is a determined young woman who wears her traditional costume with great class. For her, there is no photo. "I am very pleased here – for the gastronomy especially. I have been able to discover specialities from several countries and I have made many contacts with the youth of other delegation. The atmosphere has been truly great and if I get the chance, I would come back without hesitation."