The Nebraska Wesleyan University community celebrated Estonian Independence Day February 24, 2015. Students, staff and faculty gathered in the Student Center to share cake and listen to speakers discuss opportunities for student study in Estonia at the University of Tartu. Larry Ruth, Honorary Consul of Estonia and former chair of NWU’s Board of Governors, welcomed guests to the event. He explained that February 24 is “National Day” in Estonia or Eesti Vabariigi aastapäev. Estonia declared its independence on this day in 1918. After enduring fifty years of exile as part of the Soviet Union, Estonia broke away from that nation in a peaceful revolution in 1991.
Following Ruth’s remarks, students and faculty talked about the connections between Nebraska Wesleyan University, the University of Tartu and the Harry and Reba Huge Foundation.
Skyler May, a junior who studied for a semester at the University of Tartu, told the audience that while she lived in Estonia she took courses that contributed to her Social Work major. She became friends with students from Estonia, Lithuania and Hungary. She thanked the Huge Foundation for a scholarship she received to study in Tartu.
Nathanael Fackler, Professor of Chemistry and Loy Watley, Professor of Business Administration explained the opportunity that students in Chemistry, Business and Finance have to take courses at the University of Tartu that will then transfer back to NWU as part of a student’s major.
James Perry, Assistant Professor of Professional Studies and one of the instructors for the Network Globally, Act Locally (NGAL) course, introduced the six students who are participating in this joint social entrepreneurship program with other students from the University of Tartu and the College of Charleston. These students will travel to Tartu in March to work in teams of three with other students to find a solution to a real world problem. The course will culminate with a week of study in Charleston and a pitch to angel investors in June. The students participating in this course include Elenita Donley, Jessica Gehr, Ryan Hagenson, Jennifer Heywood, Tarryn Tietjen, and Rhys Williams.
Nebraska Wesleyan University has developed strong connections to the nation of Estonia and the University of Tartu in particular. Generous support from the Harry and Reba Huge Foundation has made it possible for a wide variety of Nebraska Wesleyan students to study abroad that otherwise would not have had the opportunity to do so. Today we celebrate this relationship and wear our blue, black and white proudly as we honor Estonian independence.