Maryland Estonia Exchange Council, Inc.


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Maryland National Guard Unity Day

Posted by on April 15, 2019 at 1:20 PM Comments comments (0)

On Friday April 12th, 2019 the Maryland National Guard hosted its 14th Annual Unity Day in Baltimore, Maryland. The historical 5th Regiment Armory was buzzing as attendees were greeted by smiles and brochures directing them to the table displays of all the sister-states in attendance. A ceremonial Honor Guard initiated the event with a song played on the bag-pipes, the National Anthem was sung, and Major General Linda Singh of the Maryland National Guard gave everyone a warm welcome. Throughout the morning and early afternoon a special sequence of events and performances took place showcasing cultural displays and ethnic foods from sister-states. Notably, "Kabujalake" - a folk dancing group from Paide, Estonia, put on not one but two tremendous performances. At the end of the second performance, the group even called for participants from the audience for "Kolonntants"! It was a wonderful afternoon celebrating the diversity and friendship of Maryland and it's sister-states.

Image: The Kabujalake folk dance group dressed in traditional "rahvariided" or folk costume. 

"Kabujalake" Folk Dance Group from Paide, Estonia visits Maryland

Posted by on April 2, 2019 at 11:25 AM Comments comments (1)

Planning is underway for various exchange activities in 2019. The “Kabujalake” Folk Dance Group, a group of eight Estonian young men and women, ages 13 – 16, plus two adults, from Paide Hammerbecki Basic School in Paide, Estonia will visit Westminster from April 7 – 15, 2019 to participate in a variety of activities in both Westminster and throughout Maryland.

They will perform as part of the Maryland National Guard’s 14th annual “Unity Day” celebration on April 12, 2019, and as part of the Children’s Chorus of Carroll County’s “Spring Celebration” concert on April 14, 2019. They will also visit and perform before various local organizations in the Westminster area including Springdale Preparatory School, Boy’s and Girl’s Club of Westminster and the Community Foundation of Carroll County.

Additionally, the group will attend a meeting of the Mayor and Common Council of Westminster, participate in a radio interview on local station WTTR and attend the seventh MAGIC, Inc. “Capture the Flag” ethical hacking competition at the Community Media Center on April 13, 2019, along with one additional Estonian guest, Dr. Birgy Lorenz, a leading cyber educator from Tallinn University of Technology and currently in the United State as a Fulbright Scholar. Building upon 2018 when only one Estonian team participated, we anticipate up to 10 Estonian teams, including teams from Paide State High School and Tallinn University of Technology, will “virtually” compete on April 13, 2019. Finally, the group, along with Dr. Birgy Lorenz, will visit and tour Towson University and Carroll County College. Their last event before they depart for Estonia will be a tour of Washington, DC.

Kabujalake's public schedule for the Maryland tour! 

For more information about the Westminster - Paide partnership, click here

Command Sgt. Maj. honored for Estonia/ Westminster connection

Posted by on January 11, 2019 at 11:40 AM Comments comments (1)

*Note: This article was written by Catalina Righter and published in the Carroll County Times on Oct 8, 2018.

On Sept. 30, Paide, Estonia's city government awarded CSM Thomas Beyard the coat of arms decoration during the city’s 727th birthday celebration. (Courtesy Photo)

Though he lives in Westminster, Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Beyard was recognized by the local government in a city halfway around the world. Beyard, who is the Senior Enlisted Leader of the Maryland National Guard has been visiting Estonia since 2000. In 2002, the city of Westminster became the sister city of Paide, Estonia sparking a partnership that has become more than symbolic.

On Sept. 30, Paide’s city government awarded Beyard the coat of arms decoration during the city’s 727th birthday celebration. Beyard said the award was “quite a surprise” to him because the partnership between cities has been going for several years. “I don’t want you to think it’s just me. It’s not...I’ve just been the one out front,” he said.

Audrey Cimino, executive director of the Community Foundation of Carroll County, said Beyard has been "in the middle of this right from the get go.” “The guy is kind of quiet, but if you want something to happen and you get him working on it, it's going to happen,” she said. “"It has been over time the best exchange program of all of the sister cities in Maryland.”

The Community Foundation maintains a fund for the Paide-Westminter Exchange to ensure that it remains funded without relying on Westminster’s budget. Beyard was disappointed not to attend the ceremony in person, but he recorded a video to accept the award from afar. Half is in English and half in Estonian.

He describes his Estonian language skills as conversational, so to make sure the pronunciation was correct, he recorded himself speaking and sent it to Estonian friends for feedback. Only about a million people in the world speak Estonian, and most Estonians are multi-lingual, he said. The next cultural exchanges between Paide and Westminster will be between tech-minded students. In November, Estonian students are planned to compete virtually in Westminster-based Mid-Atlantic Gigabit Innovation Collaboratory, Inc., (MAGIC)’s Capture the Flag cybersecurity competition. 2017 was the first year a remote group joined the competition, as students from Wilson, North Carolina tuned in to compete in the ethical hacking and cybersecutiry puzzle competition.

“Estonia is a global leader in cybersecurity,” said MAGIC Executive Director Amy Rupp. “Having representation from Paide at MAGIC's Capture the Flag cybersecurity competition is a logical next step to further strengthen Westminster's partnership with Paide. Estonia will learn more about our gigabit fiber network, and young people from both countries will work together developing cybersecurity skills essential for the defense of both countries.” Over the years, Beyard estimates there have been dozens of exchanges.

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