You might find American Jason Dydynski authentically weird. No wonder, because Jason can spend nights and days cutting and folding tiny pieces of paper to make spectacular evening dresses and even wearable pants. He admits once being caught folding paper cranes in his sleep. Jason also loves dancing while walking the Tartu streets with his headphones on.
He thinks Estonians are the human version of cats, and he used to speak Estonian with a Korean accent. When Jason does homework and feels bored, he makes random squeaking sounds (just listen to the audio below). Oh, and he studies in the master’s programme in semiotics – is semiotics even a field of study?
Listen to some of the embarrassing stuff that Jason has revealed about himself in an interview with Merilyn Merisalu, Editor-in-chief of the UT magazine.
Jason the origami artist
The town where Jason grew up in Maryland has a large Korean population, so he learned the Korean alphabet to read street and restaurant signs. His interest in Asian cultures led him to origami, which Jason has been doing since middle school. His hobby is origami fashion design – Jason has created outfits and headpieces for fashion magazines and shows in the U.S. The modular origami that Jason is fond of requires a lot of tedious work with small pieces of paper to form bigger patterns. It’s painful.
Jason the sleepwalker
“One thing that I wanted to do is a huge chain of paper origami cranes. There’s a tradition that if you make a thousand cranes, then you get a wish. <…> After you make the first one, it’s kind of not fun anymore because you are just doing the same. But I actually got to the point where I can fold them with my eyes closed easily. I can fold them one-handed with no surface in my left hand. <…> I have also been known to make them in my sleep by accident”.
Jason the president
This year, Jason is acting as the president of the International Student Ambassadors who represent the University of Tartu in Estonia and abroad. As president, Jason manages the those who manage other things – the blog, Facebook page, and events. “The president’s role is being there for everyone, giving advice, making contacts. Some people are scared to email people, so I’m like: okay, I’ll email for you”.
Jason the public speaker
Jason is a phenomenal type who can give a 20-minute presentation on anything he has looked at for 5 minutes. This is because he has competed in impromptu speaking and even made it to the American national semi-finals. He did not make it to the finals because his speech looked suspiciously good and polished. With all his training in argumentation and rhetoric, writing essays is a nuisance. In classes, Jason’s goal is to keep the conversation alive, because “that awkward seminar silence is… awkward”.
Jason the dancer
Jason tries not to, but sometimes he still does some steps while walking to class with his headphones on. One of his favourite things is dancing in his room by himself. Jason also does some other embarrassing things. “While I’m doing homework all by myself and I’m bored, I do just random sounds. It keeps me on my toes”.
Jason the feminist
When playing video games, if the female characters aren’t strong enough and do everything the male says, Jason gets so upset that he might even quit playing. He finds feminist topics interesting and likes to research how females are depicted in pop culture and media.
Jason the fan of Tartu
“I’ve lived everywhere, so I do my best everywhere I go to make it my home. I actually feel cosy in Tartu. It has a really nice vibe. I think it might be ‘the Estonians don’t bother you’ sort of thing. If I want to talk to someone, they’ll be nice, but if I don’t feel like talking, they probably don’t want to talk either. There’s like a layer of freedom here. <…> When I came here I felt a lot more home than I had in previous years”.
Inga Külmoja is the editor and an author of the UT Blog.