The thisisFINLAND – Alumni Edition 2016 participants are here!

The alumni search was arranged in 12 countries for the thisisFINLAND Foreign Correspondents’ Programme – Alumni Edition. Big thank you too all applicants! The admission process is never easy as all the applicants are highly motivated professionals with extensive background in journalism and communications. It is always heartfelt to notice your deep interest in Finland. Some of you have fresh memories of your last visit and for some it has been already decades since you have met us. Now that everyone has confirmed their participation, we are finally able to announce the lucky final 12.

Here you go…


Anna Britz


Anna Britz

Anna is an Editor-in-Chief at the Alsace20 in Strasbourg, specializing in European topics. She is FCP participant from 2009. Previously Anna has worked for the French iTELE news channel. She is very interested in Finnish approach to design, creativity and economy. According to Anna, the arctic topics are never discussed in France which is why she would be extremely pleased to learn more about their economical, political and social implications.

“7 years later, FCP remains one of the greatest experiences of my life, professionally speaking as well as personally! It was my first post studies experience and helped broaden my mind on so many levels.”

Alessandro Gori



Alessandro has worked for over 20 years as a freelance journalist reporting to publications and radio channels of 15 countries with 10 languages focusing on international politics, conflicts, European relations, minority questions and culture. He has also worked 15 years as an electoral observer and press officer. Alessandro participated in the programme 1998. After that he has visited Finland few times on his free time. After FCP programme, he published many reportages about Finland, and has also considered writing a book about Finland. He is interested in Nordic perspective to the global and European Union crisis, Finland’s relations with Russia and how Nokia has changed over the years.

“I really love Finland, a country not so many people would know about. The local nature, the extreme position and climate, the subtle and peculiar humor of most Finns, for sure a different perspective about many aspects of life, which enriched me enormously.”

Henry Hepburn


Henry Hepburn

Henry is a Senior reporter at the Times Educational Supplement Scotland, Scotland’s leading weekly publication for teachers and other education professionals. He took part to the Foreign Correspondence Programme in 2001 and has visited Finland also in 2008 with the aim of getting to know the Finnish education system better. After this visit, Times Educational Supplement Scotland published a five-part series of articles on the Finnish education system and schools. Henry has been awarded the Best Feature Writer (business/professional magazines) at the Scottish Magazine Awards in 2014 and 2015. Hepburn also writes about politics, sports and food. In 2012 he published the book The Beautiful Games: Scotland’s Hidden Sports.

“I would arrive in Finland with an open mind about what I might find, but I would guarantee writing about it afterwards in what I consider my typical style: detail-rich, vivid, empathetic and crammed with insight.”

Mārtiņš Kaprāns


martins kaprans

Mārtiņš is Adviser to the Minister of Culture of the Republic of Latvia. He is also a researcher at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology in University of Latvia. He took part to the FCP in 2004. Mārtiņš has PhD in Communication Science. Additionally he is currently a member of Interdisciplinary Commission for Researching the KGB files and member of the international monitoring group of the project “Information Warfare Initiative” in the Centre for European Policy Analysis.

“That was a wonderful month during which I learned many good things about Finnish way of life and met good friends. That was also the month which was fulfilled with joy, sauna, salmon, Lapinkulta, karaoke nights and discrete charm of Finnish people. Indeed, it has left vivid and sweet memories in my heart.”

Liis Kängsepp


Liis Kängsepp

Liis has worked as a journalist for more than ten years, recently she started a new job as head of economic news desk at Estonia’s biggest newspaper Postimees. For the past four years she’s been a stringer for the Wall Street Journal, covering Estonia and sometimes Finland. She participated in the FCP in 2005 and has written many stories about Finland on a wide variety of topics from finance and economy to design and culture. She’s been volunteering at Arvamusfestival (Festival of Opinion Culture, similar event to Finland’s Suomi-Areena and Swedish Almedalen Week) for three years, previously as chief of communications, now focusing on international relations.

“The month I spent in Finland all those years ago was an important milestone in my continuous love affair with Estonia’s northern neighbor. It widened my horizon, assured me that my decision to learn Finnish was 120 % right and brought wonderful friends, contacts and new story ideas. I hope the alumni meeting will be no different.”

Sian Lewis


Sian _Lewis.jpg

Sian is an award-winning freelance travel and outdoors journalist, video producer and presenter. She has a regular column in The Independent covering adventure travel, and edits a popular blog, The Girl Outdoors, which has won UK’s Travel Blog of the Year and Outdoor Blog of the Year 2015. Sian has previously worked as a writer for BBC Countryfile and photography magazine Digital Camera, as well as a freelance writer for The Sunday Times Travel, Lonely Planet magazine and The Guardian. She has also created online travel content, photography and video campaigns for destinations including the Swiss and Greek Tourism Boards, Tirol region and Visit Wales. She took part to the Foreign Correspondence Programme in 2011. She has studied International Studies at Bath University and has a Masters in Magazine Journalism from the Cardiff Journalism School.

“The month I spent in Finland was one of the happiest of my life and underlined my ambition to be journalist. Five years later I’m successful travel writer and am still close friends with many of the international young people I met during FCP.”

Yoko Okura



Yoko is extremely competitive and energetic participant from Japan. She was already a promising university student when she joined the FCP in 2010, but after she returned to Japan she successfully got a job at TV Asahi, and worked for the national evening news programme “Super J Channel.” She was also a member of the FCP Alumni Week in 2012; she made the best out of her opportunity of staying in Helsinki by successfully persuading her boss in sending a camera from Japan to report about nuclear energy in Finland. Now studying at Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government, she is also active as a freelance journalist for Nikkei Woman Online Magazine, writing about gender/work-life-balance views of diverse international colleagues at Harvard.

“In 2010, Finland was the first Nordic country I set foot in. As a Japanese citizen having grown up in a society where career dictates most of your life once you start working, I was mesmerized by the completely different lifestyles and values of the Finnish people.”

Eva Shulz



Eva is a 26-year-old German journalist. She attended the Foreign Correspondents’ Programme in 2013. She has a strong presence in the social media. In 2013 she reported from Finland via her blog and Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts. Now she would like to take a step further and report live, via Snapchat and Periscope. She works as social media consultant and lecturer at Deutscher Journalistenschule, Hamburg Media School, Telekom, Allianz et al. Eva has strong experience in front of TV cameras as a host of a TV show for young adults, and she has been working a lot with video material in her blog. Schulz won an Young Journalist Award in 2014 and has been nominated for best online reporting in the “Deutscher Reporterpreis” competition. She is enthusiastic about questions regarding EU, Europe and the refugee situation from the Finnish perspective. She is also interested in Arctic policies and Helsinki’s plan to become a car-free city by 2015.

“The Foreign Correspondents’ Programme sparked off my wanderlust. I have been to four continents and many different countries since then, but I honestly feel a particular warmth and sense of home when I think of Finland.”

Huijue Ye



Huijie participated the Foreign Correspondents’ Programme in 2009. She was that time a journalism student starting her career. After the FCP programme, she became a foreign correspondent dispatched by China 21st Century Business Herald to New York City to cover Wall Street news and other Chinese investment stories in US. Nowadays she has returned to Shanghai and acts the Deputy Editor-in-Chief for the China Business Networks New Media. During the coming FCP alumni programme, Huijie would like to explore the Finnish economic situation and business strengths, the creative industries as well as the urban culture and development in Finland.

“Time flies. The alumni meeting programme reminds me of the best experience in Finland. It was back in 2009 when I participated in the Foreign Correspondent’s Programme in Finland. As a freshman in my career, I made friends with many other graduates and young journalists from about 20 countries.”

Maria Manuela Correra


Manuela is FCP participant from 1996. After her graduation from Luiss Guido Garli School of Journalism, Manuela worked for Italian television Rai, Italy’s public national broadcaster. She is currently working as a professional journalist, specializing in medicine and research, in the Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associata (ANSA) which is the leading wire service in Italy, and one of the leaders among world news agencies. During the coming FCP alumni programme Maria would like to deepen her knowledge of Finnish culture, traditions, nature and media organizations.

Finland is… “traditions and nature above all … and much more!”

Valerie Hopkins



Valerie took part in FCP program in 2013 and says that a month spent in Finland made a strong impression on her. Valerie graduated from New York’s Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism in 2013. After her graduation Valerie has worked as a trainee, journalist and editor for Reuters in the office for the Balkans and Balkan Investigative Reporting Network. In 2010-2012, Valerie worked and studied in Sarajevo. Valerie has followed closely Finns’ reactions for the immigration crisis, as well as Finland’s EU policy. Valerie says that it is incredible how quickly the innovative Finnish welfare state developed after the Winter and the Continuation Wars. She would like to learn more about the Finnish success story, and to see whether the Finnish model could be utilised in other countries such as Kosovo. Because of her current work situation Valerie is particularly interested of the President Martti Ahtisaari’s role in the Kosovo peace process.

“Finland is much more to me than a marvelous place I spent a lovely month one summer with some cool people from all over the world. It is more than the sauna and the unspoiled forests, the technology and public transportation. It is a country for whose people I feel tremendous affection and for whose presence the world has much to be thankful.”

Alexis Duval



Alexis is very eager to go back to the country he had a chance to discover through FCP in 2013. After graduation from the Panthéon-Assas University with a Master’s degree in Journalism, Alexis has worked e.g. for Le Parisien and Madame Figaro, and is currently working as an editor for Le Monde. According to Alexis during the coming FCP Alumni Programme he would like to continue to explore the Finnish language and culture to understand better of the country as part of the Nordic area as well as of the European Union. Politics is the topic Alexis would like to deepen his understanding of during the coming Programme. He wants to concentrate on national politics of Finland, and write articles also about European issues as well as the relationship between Finland and Russia.

“I have so many great memories of our four weeks in 2013, memories of great meetings as well as very unexpected friendship encounters. Above all, Finland means special to me. Everyone among my relatives knows that I lived something very unusual and exceptional in Helsinki, Lahti, Turku… Something that goes beyond words. Finland opened its door to me, and I will be eternally grateful for that.”

More information?

Facebook: thisisFINLAND Foreign Correspondents’ Programme

Website: Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland: thisisFINLAND Foreign Correspondents’ Programme


Twitter: thisisFINLAND #FCP2016

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