Founder of the Ukrainian Cultural Centre, generator of new ideas and our main source of inspiration. He's the father of two sons, best friend to Muška the dog and Džambur the cat, several crows and several hundred ragweed plants.
Director of the Ukrainian Cultural Center and Assistant Coordinator in Eastern Ukraine. The father of two children, a windsurfer and a happy dog owner.
Member of the Board of the Ukrainian Cultural Centre and director of Labora LTD. Father of three children and happy owner of two guinea pigs.
Member of the Board of the Ukrainian Cultural Centre and head of the UKK School of Calligraphy. She also works on other various projects and takes care of our garden. Happy owner of two big cats.
Our most important printing master at the Labora workshop. Hailing from Scotland, she accompanies Anatoli in singing Ukrainian songs which she has learned by heart.
Member of the board of the Ukrainian Cultural Center and inventor of mechanical toys. Father of three girls.
Librarian of the Ukrainian Cultural Centre and custodian of the Centre's wisdom. A smart and educated woman who speaks both Estonian and Ukrainian as her mother tongue. Mother of three girls.
Adviser to the Ukrainian Cultural Center and head of the Estonian Congress of Ukrainians. A wise woman who everyone loves and respects.
Poet, philosopher, translator. UKK's curator of literary projects. One of the leading lights in the translation of Estonian poetry to Ukrainian and Ukrainian poetry to Estonian.
Eric A. Johnson
An indispensable advisor of the Ukrainian Cultural Centre and our dear friend.
Volunteer of the Ukrainian Cultural Centre. A wise woman and carer of wounded Ukrainian soldiers who come to Estonia for rehabilitation by the FUKK. She belongs to the Estonian Defense Forces.
A master with golden hands. This jurist who can make everything by hand, especially large books. In addition to helping UKK, he also helps Mother Teresa's Sisters in Tallinn.
Makes old paper into new, and of such a sort that you've never seen before - with seeds, plants and more.
For many years the master of UKK's papermaking workshop as well as master of the kitchen, who has fed three presidents, members of the EU Parliament, wounded Ukrainian soldiers and hungry Ukrainian students.
Mozes Tšan Tuuker
Professional underwater welding. An indispensable master if you need to weld anything, anywhere. Also cooks good Chinese dumplings.
Our Former EVS Volunteers
The Ukrainian Cultural Center is an active participant in the European Voluntary Service project. Every year, we host a volunteer from beyond Estonia’s borders. Here are some of their memories and thoughts about the time they spent with us:
NGO Ukrainian Cultural Center EVS Volunteer & Official Purveyor of Coffee
Artist, EVS volunteer. She has drawn all the animals that live in our yard. In fact, she'll draw anything and everything that's required.
EVS volunteer. In the UKK, she compiles catalogues of our folk costume collection.
UKK volunteer. Master of papermaking and natural dyes.
My favorite part, perhaps, was helping Anatoli – the deus ex machina – with daily and unpredictable activities. The range of these activities went from physical work such as cutting and organizing wood, moving stuff around, and much more — to the support, in many ways, of the process of creation of his volcanic ideas. The Ukrainian Cultural Center, is in fact a very dynamic place, with new things constantly emerging. One Ukrainian word summarizes most of my experiences here: “Konkretna!” (конкретна or concrete, specific in English.)
If I had to describe my personal developments in a few words, I would say that my EVS taught me that, often, the most effective solutions are the simplest ones. And, well, how to react to … unexpected situations.
My knowledge of different cultures also developed a lot. I can definitely say that I am more familiar with Slavic cultures in general and with the social, cultural, and political dynamics of this ethno-cultural area. I believe this has also had an impact on my civic competences. I had infinite possibilities to use my social skills.
My EVS program was focused on culture, education, arts, and crafts. I never considered myself a particularly artistic person, so it was really nice to learn a range of things including, among others, handmade paper making, woodcarving, and calligraphy. No worries, my artistic skills are still awaiting to be developed properly. 🙂
The energetic spirit of the Ukrainian Cultural Center is genuine and boundless!
I was initially apprehensive about my contribution as a volunteer, owing to my minimal exposure to the arts. But Anatoli and the team identified a project for me that involved researching various handmade paper mills across Europe to come up with a suitable implementation plan for Tallinn. This helped me fit in comfortably with the rest of the team.
I also learned how to make handmade paper, took calligraphy lessons and learned a lot about letterpress printing. While I always liked handmade objects, working at the UKK made me understand the value of handmade items and the painstaking work that goes into them.
My favorite part of the day was undoubtedly our lunch which everyone made a point to join. The volunteers and staff were from different parts of the world and it was during lunch that we got to learn more about each person, their countries, and their culture. The diversity among us was always cherished and celebrated. There was so much to learn from one another and the entire experience of sharing and cross-learning was enriching.
But my most valuable lesson from my volunteering experience at the UKK is that “If you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life.” Everyone at the Center loves what they do. That is why my three months of volunteering here did not once seem like work. The Ukrainian Cultural Center is a home away from home and a place which I can always go back to.
The Ukrainian Cultural Center is one of those unique and magical places where everybody is welcome. it doesn’t matter which religion, culture or country you come from, it’s always open. Stepping inside is like travelling in time and finding yourself a fairytale.
Luckily for me, everything in my project was directly connected to my training as a designer, so I had the opportunity to improve some skills I already had, but also to learn many new things, which are really interesting for my profession. Taking photos, designing intricate patterns, learning calligraphy, and how to make handcrafted paper are just a few examples.
However, if I had to highlight something, it would be the cozy and fun ambiance. Over time you just become a part of the family and when you have to leave, you leave a place you will always go back to.
During my year with EVS, I took up a variety of tasks. I led paper making workshops and tours of the Center. I helped with preparing different events and then happily joined in. I worked as a photographer and graphic designer. One of the projects I took part in was creating the 35 handmade books of The Ark of Unique Cultures: The Hutsuls. I even presented one of the copies to the Czech National Library later on.
My favorite part of the day was undeniably lunch, which I would often prepare. Meeting at one table and sharing a meal that was made even more tasty mostly thanks to the accompanying conversation and laughter. It was a time halfway through our work day to relax and enjoy one another’s company. My colleagues gradually became my close friends and created what the Ukrainian Cultural Center means to me: a place where everybody is welcome if they are eager to find beauty and joy in simple things.
The Ukrainian Cultural Center is a place which offers you a lot of different possibilities. You can try a lot of new things, you can propose any idea, and — even as a volunteer, the staff asks you for your opinion on projects. From the beginning, you are a part of the team. It is a place where you have the possibility to improve your ability to adapt quickly as anything can happen at any time of the day. Even the last thing you would dare to imagine! You have to react quickly and always be ready to adapt yourself to what is happening!
While I was there, I learned a lot about the history and culture of North-Eastern Europe and about myself. As a volunteer I learned about my profession as a ceramist. I even had ceramic orders from the Center. At first, I didn’t think I would be able to make what they asked me to do, but being a volunteer, I wasn’t under so much pressure as I would’ve been anywhere else. And I was really glad to know a skill which could help them and which they needed.
Along the way, I made several religious ceramic compositions for the Center. I also helped with their paper making workshops for different schools and with different events. I also made some illuminations, guided tours, picked plants, and dried them out to later put them into handmade paper. This volunteer experience gave me the possibility to meet a lot of interesting people, and put me in touch with the greater artistic field. Thanks to my experience, I had the great chance to continue working in this place for one more year.
We are very pleased to have such good friends who have lent a hand and helped create the Centre and its courtyard over the years. You may have already read about many of them in our blog posts but we would like to mention them again. Big heartfelt thanks!
I started working at the UKK back in February 2012. A friend of mine, who was working at the UKK at the time, invited me to meet Anatoli. This meeting — during a very dark, cold, and mysterious February — was both inspiring and productive. As my friend could no longer work at the UKK, I started helping Anatoli and working at the Center. The projects we worked on together were important and had a tremendous positive impact on a lot of good people. Each of these projects was given a bold name: Together (Koos), Our Homeland (Meie Kodumaa), and Integration (Lõimumine).
Integration was the biggest project I worked on as a coordinator. Besides all the organizational work involved, I also traveled with Anatoli to Tartu, Põlva, Narva, and Jõhvi as part of the project to help him with his entertaining performances of his Mechanical Toy Theater encouraging integration.
The topics and issues I worked on at the UKK were very different. Every day was a mixture of reality and theater, of organizational details and creative energy. I loved that each of my working days was a mixture of all of that. Just to give you one example, I could be writing a long and important report for the Integration Foundation in the morning and then a few hours later Anatoli, Nestor, and I were driving out to the countryside to pick up a few live chickens for the kitchen garden in St. Hildegard’s Courtyard.
We started to leave when suddenly Anatoli – an older man with a beard – appeared. He interrupted his lunch break – which he had been taking in his chamber above the Scriptorium – and went on to give us a two hour excursion of the Center. Moving up and down the spiral staircases from one workshop to another, we also met with Tamara, the concealed door opener. She also does many different things and is – at least in my opinion – an essential part of the Center. She always works quietly in the background, knows something about everything, and provides solid support for Anatoli in all his many daily activities.
Anatoli’s enthusiasm at showing us his small world back in 2007 was extraordinary. Behind each door, within each cabinet, or inside each drawer, there was some kind of unusual invention or soaring idea on which he was working at the time.
After that, I started to go to the Center regularly, first helping out as a volunteer at the Saturday School. Later, I became a “developer” of Anatoli’s magnificent ideas, working on various different projects. This included writing grant applications as well as translating Anatoli’s colorful plans into a language that others might also understand.
What amazed me most right from the start was Anatoli’s ability to inspire everyone around him to believe in an idea and then to help everyone develop the belief that together we can make it happen. I also believe – and I’m not alone in thinking so as I know many others who think the same way – that Anatoli is a great example of how to live according to ones principles and words. For me, this was – and has become – extremely valuable and has ended up having a great deal of influence on a number of choices I’ve made in my personal life.
Later, after the gates had opened up in front of me and I had been working in the Ukrainian Cultural Center for some time, I then came to understand one summer evening that I had managed to restore the lost world of my childhood.
A place where there is space for big dreams.
A place where there is room to grow and develop.
A place where soaring ideas come together with the power to fulfill them.
Since that summer, the Ukrainian Cultural Center has been one of my homes, just as I believe it is a home for many more people around the world.
I believe that once it became home, then the Ukrainian Cultural Center is now a place I will never really leave. After all, you leave home only so that you will be able to come back again.
P.S We have many more friends and the list below is constantly growing…
Maria Tšerepahha, Lilianna Samuliak, Bogdan Tšerepahha, Igor Svõrõda, Nadiia Koroljuk, Lilia Ivantšenko, Lilia ja Bogdan Tšekalski, Olha Lõtvõn, Mõkola Berestjuk, Volodõmõr Didar, Sergii Zubkov, Dmõtro Iljušõn, Mara Ljutjuk, vend Serafim ning vend Mikael, Julia Gulõk, Denis Strašnõj, Uliana Osovska, Pavlo Prõimõtš, Irõna Ukhankina, Yulia Golovtšõn, Ksenia Drozd, Anu Karjaste, Timo Maran, Erki Vaikre, Pille Kivihall, Tiina Kull,Taivo Niitvägi, Doris Kareva, Veronika Kivisilla, Tiit Aleksejev, Ülo Pikkov…