JULY 2016

Transition to e-invoicing
Estonian language and cultural immersion clubs provide useful language practice
Our partnership with Estonian theatres and museums
Mentorship programme for less successfully integrated residents
Estonia and the foundation from a Dutch perspective


Transition to e-invoicing

The Integration and Migration Foundation Our People (MISA) made the transition to the OÜ Omniva invoice management interface on 1 July 2016 for the processing of purchase invoices. As such, MISA is now capable of accepting e-invoices.

The Estonian government has approved an action plan to make machine-readable e-invoices mandatory. The aim is for invoicing between the public and private sectors to be operating on the basis of e-invoices by the end of 2016. In connection therewith, MISA has also adopted the e-invoice management interface, as a result of which e-invoices can now be submitted. Through these, all invoice data will be transferred directly to the MISA accounting system.

E-invoices can now be submitted to MISA by sending them via the e-invoice operator of your choice (OÜ Omniva, AS Fitek, AS Telema et al.). PDF invoices should in future be e-mailed to [email protected]. From July, hard-copy invoices to be submitted to MISA should be addressed to Pallasti 28, 10001 Tallinn. Please mark ‘Arved 19200’ on the envelope.

More information about the transition to e-invoices can be found on the website of the Ministry of Finance at http://www.fin.ee/e-arved.

More information about e-invoices to be submitted to MISA is available by calling +372 659 9021 or e-mailing [email protected]

Information about Estonian language and culture club activities

Estonian language and cultural immersion clubs provide useful language practice

The Integration and Migration Foundation Our People (MISA) organised procurements this spring to find organisers for language and culture clubs for those who do not speak Estonian as their mother tongue.

Jana Tondi, the head of language and cultural immersion at MISA, says that for practising Estonian, overcoming language barriers and getting past communication problems it is important to offer such opportunities to those who already speak some Estonian but who lack the courage and need recognition and praise in order to speak the language spontaneously and freely. “One effective way of doing that is through language and culture clubs that give people the chance to speak Estonian, enjoy themselves and learn new things,” she said. “Compared to traditional language classes, the club meetings are enriched with communication situations and elements of non-formal learning such as excursions and meet-and-greets with guests. The atmosphere’s a lot more relaxed, and taking part is entirely voluntary.”

The clubs are being run by four organisations: Mitteldorf OÜ, Keelepisik OÜ, Implement Consulting Group OÜ and ImmiSchool - Uusimmigrantide Koolituskeskus OÜ.

The first two clubs opened their doors in Tallinn in July. A further 10 or so clubs will be starting up in August and September. Club members will not only be getting together in Tallinn, but also in Tartu, Sillamäe, Jõhvi, Kohtla-Järve, Ahtme, Narva and Pärnu. Up to 60 Estonian language clubs will be opened around the country in the next two years (2016-2017).

Among those on the waiting list to join the clubs, top priority is being given to people currently taking part in the Estonian language courses at the B2 level being organised by MISA, then to others who registered for the B2 courses on the foundation’s website in summer 2015. MISA forwards the lists of potential club members to the organisers, who then get in touch with them and invite them to attend an information day to find out more about the club and its activities.

Invited along to meetings of the language and culture clubs are people who speak Estonian as their mother tongue, who provide the club members with language practice and encourage them to communicate in the language. The attendees get to talk to the guests on a range of everyday topics, thus being exposed to phrases and expressions frequently used in ordinary situations. Club members and leaders get together at least once a week over a six-month period, for up to four academic hours at a time. Once a month they also go on an excursion or attend a cultural event. Furthermore, each club keeps a blog of its activities, with the aim of getting its members working together and sharing their thoughts and experiences.

Keelepisik OÜ club leader Helge Kušner says that what makes the club different from ordinary language learning is that grammar rules are not the focus of attention. “Occasionally words come up that need to be translated or written on the board, particularly if we’re talking about a more specific topic,” she explained. “Our members are really motivated. We have a great time at our meetings. The atmosphere’s always really relaxed and friendly.” Fellow Keelepisik club leader Katrin Kark says that it has only taken a couple of meetings for members to forget the language barrier and communicate more freely and directly. “That’s really gratifying to see,” she said. “We take a creative approach to our get-togethers, and we try to come up with discussions that will be of use to the group, but also allow them to enjoy themselves.”

Each language and culture club is led by two native speakers of Estonian who are teachers of Estonian (or another foreign language) to adults and who have undergone special group leadership training. They have also been given advice from experienced practitioners and are supported by the teaching materials prepared for the language clubs.

Information days for those running the clubs, as well as the first information events for future club members, will be held in summer 2016.

MISA is financing the Estonian language and culture clubs from the resources of the ‘Activities supporting integration in Estonian society’ project of the European Social Fund.

For further information please contact: Jana Tondi | Head of Language and Cultural Immersion, MISA | E-mail: [email protected] | Telephone: +372 659 9069

Partnerships with Estonian cultural institutions

Our partnership with Estonian theatres and museums

A range of supporting activities contributes to the integration of Estonian society, and an important part is played in this by being familiar with and consuming Estonian culture. In order for those who live in Estonia but do not speak Estonian as their mother tongue to be part of and understand the cultural events and activities that take place in the country, the Integration and Migration Foundation Our People (MISA) works with 11 cultural institutions around the country.

“Our aim in doing so is to give theatres and museums that are willing and able to offer cultural events and programmes in other languages for less successfully integrated residents of the country and new immigrants the chance to obtain the technical equipment they need,” explained Riina Ring from the MISA Implementation Centre.

In order to make the upgrades required for providing cultural programmes in other languages and to acquire and modernise technical equipment, MISA has entered into partnership agreements with the following institutions: Theatre NO99, Rakvere Theatre, the Vanemuine Theatre, the Russian Theatre, Vaba Lava, the Estonian Open Air Museum, the University of Tartu Museum, the Palamuse Oskar Luts Parish Museum, Pärnu Museum, Valga Museum and the Estonian Theatre and Music Museum.

“I’m happy to say that with the first few theatre and museum procurements we’ve already reached the point of signing contracts,” Ring explained. “This means they’ll soon be able to put on exhibitions and performances for people living in Estonia who speak other languages as well.”

The activities being coordinated by MISA to enhance the availability of information in other languages are being financed from the resources of the ‘Activities supporting integration in Estonian society’ project of the European Social Fund.

For further information please contact: Riina Ring | Coordinator, MISA Implementation Centre | E-mail: [email protected] | Telephone: +372 659 9030

INTERREG Central Baltic Sea programme cooperation project

Mentorship programme for less successfully integrated residents

Since spring 2016, the Integration and Migration Foundation Our People (MISA) has been working with Luckan Integration, a branch of its Finnish partner Föreningen Luckan r.f, to implement a project entitled ‘Cross-border cooperation on mentoring and peer support for immigrants’.

The overall aim of the project is to support less successfully integrated residents of Estonia who are unemployed and Estonians living in Finland, as well as organisations that are prepared to hire people from different national backgrounds.

As part of the project, MISA is conducting a survey to map the needs of Estonians living in Finland (primarily in and around Helsinki) that they feel would help them better integrate into Finnish society. Based on the results of the survey, support groups will be established for Estonians living in Finland, who will be offered a mentorship service.

In the course of the project a mentorship programme promoting the integration and employment of less successfully integrated residents will be developed for Estonia on the basis of the Finnish programme FIKA. The programme will involve 20 pairs of mentors whose cooperation will last for around six months.

Activities will also be carried out in Estonia and Finland for organisations that are prepared to hire people from different national backgrounds. With the help of information campaigns, the organisers aim to raise awareness of multicultural working environments, thereby leading to an increase in the willingness of organisations to recruit people of different nationalities.

The project will last until the end of 2018. It is being financed by the INTERREG Central Baltic Sea programme of the European Regional Development fund. Information about project partner Luckan Integration can be found here.

For further information please contact: Natalia Reppo | Head of Cooperation, MISA | E-mail: [email protected] | Telephone: +372 659 9840

Estonia through other people’s eyes

Between March and June this year MISA played host to an enthusiastic Dutch work experience trainee with a very sunny disposition – Mieke van Vemden. Everyone at the foundation is very pleased that Mieke chose our organisation for her work placement and that we got the chance to get to know her a little. Mieke’s thoughts on her three months in Estonia (including her time at MISA) can be read below.

Dutch intern’s thoughts about Estonia and MISA

I’m Mieke van Vemden. I’m 24 years old and I’m from Utrecht in the Netherlands. For the past three months I’ve been an intern at MISA and getting to know the country. I came to Estonia to do research for my Master’s degree. I’m studying Human Geography at the Radboud University in Nijmegen where I am specialising in Europe: borders, identity and governance. It’s because of my specialisation in border studies that I ended up in Estonia.

Border studies focus on national and European borders, but also borders within societies, which I researched in Estonia. The issues surrounding the integration of minorities – in particular the Russian minority and its position in society – have been the subject of my research. I’ve been conducting interviews with Russian speakers and Estonian speakers to obtain information and to find out more about their lives, views and way of thinking.

My internship at MISA has helped me gain an insight into and better understand Estonia and the Russian and other minorities living here. I’ve been working in the Development Centre of MISA, which has been a great help to me. As such, I’m very happy and truly grateful that I was welcomed here. I think MISA is an example of how integration can be a very positive thing, where the strengths of every person in terms of language or origins are used and where people work together. MISA is involved in a great variety of activities and contributes to creating a more unified society – something I feel is always a challenge. Living together with who you consider to be different-minded people is difficult, especially when understanding or communication is lacking. For me, integration therefore doesn’t mean assimilation, as I believe that a varied society is a more enriched society. I do however see integration as a process where people engage and get to know a country, its culture, its traditions, its values and its language so that it becomes home to them. For me it is also a two-way process, where (in this case) Estonians can also put in an effort to get to know their new foreign neighbours or colleagues. When it comes to integration, communication and understanding are the most important things – as well as the most difficult. However, understanding on both sides is vital.

Someone once told me that Estonians are like coconuts: a little bit hard on the outside, but very friendly inside. I’d say I agree with that. I do however have to say that in first few weeks here, when you’ve not yet realised this fact, the outside of the coconut can sometimes seem very hard indeed.

Estonians, I have discovered, also love cakes and pastries. Everywhere in restaurants and cafés there are so many of them, and they’re so tasty! I also really like the fact that there are so many flowers.

In these three months I’ve fallen in love with Tallinn. It has a beautiful Old Town and is a very varied city in terms of its houses, parks and old buildings, like Patarei and Linnahall, but also with places like Telliskivi. I’ve also noticed some differences with the Netherlands – of course the weather when I arrived was a bit colder, but also taking off your shoes, the long opening hours of shops, the huge number of shopping malls, free public transport for residents of Tallinn, the lack of special bike lanes everywhere, and the lack of pre-chopped vegetables in supermarkets!

At home I describe Estonia as a beautiful country and Tallinn as a beautiful city which is full of history. You can experience the Middle Ages here, but more recent history is present as well. If people want to visit Estonia I would definitely recommend that they hire a car and go visit the countryside. I’ve visited Saaremaa and Muhu, Lahemaa National Park, Lake Peipus, Haapsalu, the old Rummu prison and Tartu. I like to think that I’ve seen a lot of the country.

What Tallinn and Estonia can maybe improve on and learn from the Dutch is bike lanes! We’re both very flat countries, so biking is easy. In winter as well as in summer there’s little rain here as well, which is perfect for biking. So the only thing that could make it better would be bike lanes. It makes things much easier, quicker and safer riding a bike. And with more bikes there are fewer cars and less pollution, you get more exercise – and there are more happy Dutch people!

All in all I have to say I’ve really enjoyed my stay in Estonia and have experienced for myself what a beautiful and interesting city Tallinn is. MISA has been a great and very welcoming organisation, which has helped me a great deal with my research. I’m very curious as to what the future will bring for Estonia and I’ll be sure to visit again. Estonia has been a very good home to me for the past three months.