The three attendees were Elle Law, Alessandra Suuberg and Siim Vakkur. Here are a few of their observations:
Elle Law is a junior at the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill.
“…I live in a college town ‘bubble’ that is bereft of an Estonian community. As a result, it is difficult to be actively informed of current issues and events relevant to Estonian interests, or to meet fellow peers with Estonian interests. As a half Estonian and holder of dual citizenship with the United States and Estonia, this issue is of great concern to me.
As an Estonian in an increasingly globalized environment, I believe my civic duty includes voting responsibly and initiating international collaborations with my contacts in Estonia and America. In short, I would use my attendance at JBANC’s conference to heighten awareness of current Baltic issues and to form new relations as means for facilitating future collaborations.”
Alessandra Suuberg is of Estonian and Latvian heritage and is in her second year at Tulane University Law School in New Orleans, Louisiana.
“…Particularly for a student living in a city without a large Baltic-American community, opportunities like this one are an effective way to stay informed both about what is happening on the other side of the Atlantic, and about what is happening in our own Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian communities.
William Browder's keynote address on the Magnitsky case, a poignant and eye-opening look into a foreign legal system very different from our own, was particularly interesting to me as a second-year law student with an interest in comparative law… I hope that all of our Baltic constituencies will continue to encourage members of my generation to attend JBANC conferences in the future, because they are a chance to reach beyond our existing networks… and develop stronger ties within a joined Baltic-American community.”
Siim Vakkur, originally from Tallinn, has lived in the United States since 1989. He is studying medicine at Ohio State University.
“It was great to learn that the tiny Baltic region has such a big impact on the entire world. Seeing the example that is being set for economic growth in the panel by Latvian Minister of Finance Andris Vilks was fantastic especially because economy is a big issue here in America. It also is nice to see that Estonia is leading the way in blazing the trail and bringing fellow Latvians and Lithuanians to the top as well... The luncheon on the Magnitsky Act and how that came to be was an incredible story with a phoenix rising out of the ashes of a horrible tragedy. This transitioned very well into current issues in Russia and how the corruption runs rampant still.
I am excited to have the opportunity to get more involved in the Estonian community in the US along with our fellow neighbors in the Baltic. I would like to thank all the people that put this great event together and all of the guest speakers for taking time to extrapolate on current and future issues. I am especially grateful to the Estonian Embassy for opening the doors to such a beautiful place and hosting a wonderful reception.”