I grew up in Tartu, Estonia. The City of Good Thoughts, a place that is known for high-quality education, culture and innovation (Skype!) which definitely influenced me a lot. I was always encouraged to try everything and do anything, test my boundaries – never pushed to follow a strict path. A privilege that I’m grateful for.
Since as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by foreign cultures and languages. I Googled “work abroad” when I was 15 and ended up spending my summer in the middle of nowhere in France. Back in Estonia, I found blogs of exchange students that inspired me to do the same – I studied in France for a year when I was 17. I felt completely lost studying maths in French, but got there eventually.
I returned to Estonia to finish high-school but then left again to study Linguistics in the UK. All these fascinating questions.. How do we process language, how do we learn them? How did languages develop? I went on to do a MA in Linguistics in the Netherlands, focusing on the intersection of Psychology and Linguistics. Where is language in the brain? Does our grammar influence our cognition? I found out that it does (Sakarias & Flecken, 2019), and also that academia/PhD is not a good fit with my personality and lifestyle, at least not yet. I went on to travel a bit more.
I spent a year in Nepal and India, walking around and across mountains, sitting in silence, working at small cafes, tutoring and teaching, doing a course in Buddhism. Reflecting on how difficult the journey must have been in the past (inspiring Devrla Murphy, for example) and how easy it was for me to get at least a superficial glimpse of the diversity of culture and intensity of controversies that exist in these two countries.
I returned to the Netherlands, where I worked with a social enterprise focused on the integration of migrants (Makers Unite), with an NGO that studies gender equality at the workplace (Equileap) and finally – with MasterPeace, a global network of NGOs and social enterprises, spanning across four continents. I coordinated, trained, designed, listened and served the organizations as best as I could. I learned a lot about the ins and outs of the field, and also finished an MA in International Development for the academic background.
COVID19 increased my sense of urgency and responsibility to work where I can create the most direct and meaningful societal impact – hence, after 10 years, I decided to move back to Estonia. I am passionate about supporting people in pursuing their passion, starting up new ventures and being in charge of their own journey. I work as a freelance consultant and trainer for NGOs and social enterprises.