The Three Rector's Scholarship competition took place for the sixth time. Elmar Gams, a doctoral student of the University of Tartu, was chosen as the winner of the final round held on 10 March at the University of Vilnius in Lithuania.
Gams is a fourth-year doctoral student at the University of Tartu Institute of History and Archaeology and participated in the competition for the second time. Participants had to submit three essays on a given topic: one in Lithuanian, one in Latvian and one in Estonian. "The essays that I wrote were based on my knowledge of the history and culture of Latvia and Lithuania. This year's essays were primarily related to the research of the 20th-century history of these countries," said Gams.
His interest in the languages of the Baltic countries is both personal and professional. "I have been learning Estonian since 2006 when I came to live here. I became more interested in the Lithuanian language in 2012, when I was a bachelor's student in history at the University of Tallinn," Gams recalled.
For Gams, learning the Latvian language has been the most difficult. "I never use this language in my everyday life. I use it primarily in my research," he explained. Gams started learning Latvian in the spring of 2015 when he was a master's student at the University of Tallinn and went to the University of Vilnius with Erasmus programme. After that, he took a break from learning Latvian.
In 2022, he decided to devote more time to learning Latvian because of his doctoral thesis and the Three Rector's Scholarship competition. "In my research, I focus on what the returning process of deportees looked like in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania from Stalin's death until the collapse of the Soviet Union," explained Gams.
Gams' native language is Russian. In addition to this and the languages of the Baltic countries, he knows English and understands Ukrainian, Polish, German and Italian on different levels.
The Three Rector's Scholarship competition was announced by the rectors of the University of Tartu, the University of Latvia and the University of Vilnius in the academic year of 2017/18. The purpose of the competition is to promote the teaching and learning of the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian language and culture. The universities take turns organising the scholarship competition.
The next scholarship competition will be organised in the 2023/24 academic year by the University of Tartu. The amount of the scholarship is 2,000 euros. All students who study full-time at the University of Tartu, the University of Latvia or the University of Vilnius and speak one language of the Baltic countries at least at the C1 level and others at least at the A2 level are welcome to apply.