Sauna, vodka and the skijumping champion Janne Ahonen – these would most probably be three most commonly mentioned names and things if Polish people were asked what they associate with Finland. Among thirteen countries participating in this year’s Finland Foreign Correspondents’ Programme, Poland is geographically closest to Finland, but I feel like there is still so much to Finnish culture, history and society that we, Polish people, are yet to discover. Including me – that is why I am beyond excited about going for the first time to Finland in little less than a week – and sharing that experience with my friends-to-be from the world over.
As a journalist covering European affairs for the Polish news radio TOK FM, I have been closely following Finnish policymaking in various aspects, especially when Finland was leading the works of the Council of the European Union in 2019. At the same time, Finland caught my eye as a student of Economics and Politics, with its innovative social and economic ideas, e.g. its experiments with the introduction of basic income. All that made me take a course of Finnish language – and thanks to my great teacher, I grew more and more interested in Finland’s culture and traditions.
The forthcoming stay in Finland is therefore a great opportunity for me to observe Finnish ideas in practice. I am particularly interested in Finland’s diversity: as someone trying to get into the intricacies of Finnish language, I was struck by how extensive the content offered by the public broadcaster is in the simplified Finnish. Not only that: it recently launched a news service in Ukrainian, which might serve as an inspiration for countries like mine, hosting refugees forced to flee their homes.
I am also hoping to broaden my horizons when it comes to Finnish cultural heritage. This spring in Paris, I was lucky to see exhibitions of two great Finnish painters: Akseli Gallen-Kallela and Albert Edelfelt. It made me think how Poland and Finland both drew from artwork to maintain and protect their national identity when, historically, faced with the neighbouring powers. I am thrilled to discover new links between our countries – and to create one by exploring Finland and being offered a chance to understand its people more profoundly.
Finally, I need to say how grateful I am to Finnish embassy in Warsaw for providing me with all the necessary support and making sure everything goes smoothly. And to all my fellow participants: I am looking forward to seeing you in Helsinki!