From New Mexico to KESKUS with love and gratitude
Despite living almost 3,000 kilometres away from KESKUS, for Ingrid Roosild and her daughter Kaili, “eestlus” or being Estonian, is as natural as the deep, green beauty of a primeval Baltic forest.
Ingrid and Kaili,13, live in Albuquerque, New Mexico, far indeed from an Estonian community, but this does not deter them from embracing and supporting their heritage.
And this is why Ingrid has stepped forward as a Viru Vanem donor to KESKUS International Estonian Centre, being developed now in downtown Toronto as a dynamic global hub that will welcome all Estonians.
“Being Estonian is a big part of my identity, it’s such a natural part of who I am,” she explains. “It’s an amazing group of people to be part of and I have always naturally gravitated to the culture.”
Ingrid was a counsellor at the Estonian summer camp Jõekääru in Udora, Ontario for several years while in her high school years, and her daughter Kaili has now started going as well.
“She just loved it!” Ingrid said. “In 2020, she wanted to go for the whole five weeks!” Then, of course, the pandemic hit and much-loved activities like this one went on hold.
Ingrid is the founder and CEO of Kivi Financial Group in Albuquerque, a firm that specializes in financial planning, investment planning and insurance. With four full-time employees, she has a busy practise.
Ingrid was born in Massachusetts, and grew up attending activities in the Boston Estonian community. Her parents, Sven and Heli Roosild, were very involved in Estonian life. Her father was a member of the Estonian American National Council and was also involved with the Estonian House in New York as well as the summer camp on Long Island.
“He was always doing something,” Ingrid laughs. “And it was a house rule to always speak Estonian. We even had a ‘white board’ with points marked on it for who was making the best progress!”
Ingrid said she only spoke Estonian to Kaili when she was a toddler and they have discovered the language app Speakly to help continue with Estonian lessons. She has also attended several Song Festivals in Estonia – a moving experience for someone who did not have a strong community close at hand: “Being there felt like home to me.”
The family (including sister Aili and brother Tarmo) moved to Washington when their father started a position at The Pentagon with the Defence Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA), part of the U.S. Department of National Defense, dealing with research projects on defense and military related matters.
Ingrid has taken up the torch from her father to continue building Estonian culture in North America and beyond. She serves on the Estonian American National Council and believes strongly in supporting the future. This means being a part of KESKUS.
“We really need to think more globally,” she said. “We can’t just be stuck in a time capsule only knowing what our parents taught us. Estonians are spreading out, moving around and we need a place where we can connect, grow and learn from each other.”
She said it’s important to think of what Estonians need now, how opportunities can be developed and how to build a legacy for the generations to come.
“I hope I can encourage others in the U.S. to donate to KESKUS. It’s an amazing undertaking and I believe strongly in supporting it.”
“We have a deep, soulful spirt as part of our national identity and a lot of positive things have come out of that. In a world that is becoming increasingly diluted, this is incredibly valuable.”
“My dad kept giving of his time and energy. I want to do that now as well.”
And for 13 year-old Kaili Roosild, one thing is for certain. As soon as Jõekääru opens up again, she’ll be first in line to sign up.
Get involved and help support our future
Are you interested in helping build this spectacular new home for the global Estonian community? Please join our growing list of capital campaign donors! The International Estonian Centre’s donor categories are Kalevipoja Laud for gifts over $100,000 (including naming rights for specific areas), Viru Vanemad for gifts over $10,000, and Kungla Rahvas for gifts up to $10,000. Stay tuned for the launch of the Kungla Rahvas campaign in 2021.
Donations may be made as a family gift, or in honour of an individual or family. All Canadian and U.S. donations will be issued a tax receipt.
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DIGITAL Estonian Life No. 47 - November 26, 2021