It’s soon the hectic time of the year when 19 young journalists around the world arrive in Helsinki to spend the month of August in Finland as participants of the Foreign Correspondents’ Programme.
So, what really is the Foreign Correspondents’ Programme? Where do these young journalists come from? And who organizes all this?
To explain briefly, the Foreign Correspondents’ Programme, or FCP as we call it, is a media training programme organized since 1990 by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs (MFA) of Finland. For over twenty years the MFA has invited talented young international journalists and journalism students to Finland to spend here the month of August and to get to know the country; our politics, economy, culture and the Finnish way of life. We want to give these young talents a broad understanding on Finland. At the same time, the Programme serves as a networking tool which allows the participants to build long lasting connections with colleagues from all around the globe. The MFA covers the participants’ travel and accommodation expenses during the Programme.
Now, it is only one week left before the journalists arrive! It has been a long process to finally arrive at this point. So much has to be ready now and so much has already been done. First of all, at the beginning of the year 2013, we here at the Ministry decided from which countries we would like to invite participants this year. We consulted our colleagues in different departments of the MFA and in the Finnish embassies and, as a result, this year the participants come from Argentina, Belarus, Brazil, China, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Japan, Poland, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, the United States and Vietnam.
Secondly, our staff in the Finnish embassies and in the consulates of the participant countries ran a competition to select the participants, either recently graduated journalists or students of journalism, who would be interested in Finland. In addition to the general interest towards Finland and formal education in journalism, we were looking for open-minded, critical thinking individuals who would want to dive deeply and with a curious attitude into Finnish society and way of life. It was not easy to choose the participants since we received so many good applications and we could select only one participant per country!
The Programme itself has been constructed piece by piece by the FCP Team at the MFA in Helsinki during the first half of 2013. It includes meetings with political leaders, academia, artists and professionals, representing various sectors of Finnish society. During the Programme, the FCP participants will not only stay in Helsinki but also travel to the cities of Turku and Rovaniemi. In addition, the participants will get a real grasp of the Finnish way of life when they stay one weekend as guests in Finnish families in different parts of the country. They will also be working in different Finnish media organizations for one day and learn how our media works.
During the past years, the FCP has proven to be a very unique and popular part of Finnish public diplomacy both by the participants, by the MFA and by the numerous partners that make this Programme possible. I am personally really happy to be hosting this group of young talents here in Finland this August. We will have an intense but interesting month ahead. This blog serves as a board for the FCP 2013 participants to share their experiences during their stay in Finland. Each participant will write a post on the blog during the Programme and give you an insight on what the FCP is all about and how Finland is seen through international journalists’ eyes.
Stay tuned and follow our blog postings -and, of course, please leave a comment or few! And don’t forget to like our Facebook page to get information on what we are currently doing.
Welcome to this journey with us!