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The Estonian Students Fund in the USA (ESF) provides scholarships and grants to students of Estonian descent.  The Fund has adapted to changing needs since its inception in 1961.  In the early years scholarships were given to recent émigré students. Although the focus remains on supporting 2nd and 3rd generation Esto-nian-Americans, the ESF now supports students of Estonian descent worldwide.  Five years ago, the Fund created a special scholarship category for Estonian-American students who wish to study in Tartu or Tallinn.  This past year the ESF awarded scholarships or grants to 95 students: 25 from the USA, 59 from Estonia and 10 students from other countries.  The ESF awarded scholarships to students across a wide distribution of universities.  The majority of students are studying either in the United States or Estonia but others are studying in Canada, Sweden, the Netherlands, Scotland, England, Hong Kong, Latvia and Germany. In 2012 the Fund provided financial assistance to 15 PhD students, 35 master’s degree students, and 45  undergraduate students.  The broad fields of study include many students enrolled in engineering and business programs as well as archeology, agriculture, Estonian national textiles, zoology, journalism, architecture, veterinary medicine, education and linguistics. For the past 10 years the Fund has provided an annual grant to the Estonian Academy of Arts to help  cover the expense of their summer Finno-Ugric research expedition.  Each summer a team of students from the Kunstiakadeemia spends several weeks studying and gathering data from Finno-Ugric people in various regions of Russia.  Trips have been made to areas inhabited by Udmurts, Mordvins, Maris, Komis, and last year, Karelians.  The students research traditional arts, architecture and other cultural traits, create expositions, and pass their findings on to the Estonian National Museum. The scholarship cycle for the ESF begins in the late fall when the scholarship applications are posted to the ESF website (www.esfusa.org). Comp-leted applications must be received in late February after which the Scholarship Committee reviews them and announces scholarship/grant awards in May.  The Fund encourages all college students of Estonian descent to apply.   While being an active member of an Estonian-American community is a plus, a student’s academic credentials and financial need are the primary factors that are taken into consideration.  Estonian language skills are not a prerequisite for receiving assistance. The ESF encourages Estonian-American students to apply for the new scholarship for study at university in Tallinn or Tar-tu for a semester, a year or longer.  The ESF believes cultural and language immersion will help to strengthen the Estonian communities abroad.  

 

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