For the past 5 years, I’ve visited around a dozen countries as a foreign news reporter for a TV station in Thailand. Most of them are in Asia and close to my home country such as China, Japan, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Cambodia; the others are USA and Russia. So Finland, where I will be traveling to in the next few days, will be the destination of my first trip to Europe.
I used to apply for some exchange programs in European countries in the past but never succeeded. Then an editor, whose desk is near mine, sent me the link of the programme that would change my life: thisisFINLAND Foreign Correspondents’ Programme. At first I was reluctant to apply since I thought I didn’t have much knowledge about Finland and the deadline was approaching. However, I finally decided to give myself a chance and turned out it was worth trying.
Each day I am looking for news from around the world for Thai people not to miss, mainly international affairs. So far this year, there have been at least 2 big stories from Finland. The first one came in March after United Nations report revealed that Finland has overtaken Norway to become the happiest nation on the planet. And the second one in this July as the politically neutral country hosted the first summit meeting between two controversial world leaders: US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. But from this August onwards, Thai people will hear a lot more about various aspects of Finland from me.
Lots of Thais know Nokia phones, Angry Birds, and Moomin, but only some know exactly where they are from. If you ask Thai people to tell their first impression of Finland, the majority would pick the renowned education system. Around 2 years ago a friend from my hometown, a small province in the north of Thailand called Phrae, visited Helsinki. He is a dedicated high school teacher and he was so impressed by Finland’s education and welfare systems that he shared lots of photos and stories on social media.
Finland is also considered one of the best in many other areas such as gender equality, freedom of the press, social innovation, startup business, and heavy metal music! So my quest in Helsinki is to search for secrets that put this small Nordic nation on the world map, and I will have 15 friends from 15 different countries joining me on this once-in-a-lifetime journey.
Although the 16 participants in thisisFINLAND Foreign Correspondents’ Programme are still young, we each have promising potential like no other. I believe this program will very well boost our career path in journalism, and at the same time help promote Finland to global audience.
I hope the 3-week-long journey in Helsinki will not only be my very first trip to Europe, but also one of the most memorable moments in my life.