Finland was truly important for me, both as a person and as a journalist. Between 1996 and 2004, I was there 6 times, out of which only one in the wintertime. For sure, the most striking visit was through the YJP in 1998.
I participated in many programmes for journalists but I can say that the YJP was really the best one, for the format, the approach, how people working with us was helpful, the group of journalists coming from different countries (I am still in touch with some of them).
To have the chance to know deeply a country in such a way was really impressive and coming from Southern Europe even more: only thinking that a not so well known country would invest some money to invite journalists there to present all different aspects of Finland was then somehow surprising, but in fact very smart. Of course, all those media professionals who came to Helsinki during the years spread all around the world, would now know all the connections of any news coming from this beloved Nordic country: they would be easily able to put them in a context and they would have all the instruments to take really care of such news. This is happened to me: always looking for some news coming from the “Deep North”.
A part of this, 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 provided me with a different perspective about many aspects of life, which enriched me enormously.
Coming back to Finland through the Alumni meeting will be a great opportunity for me. It will be a chance to meet again other journalists from all over the world, to share and exchange ideas with them (about the country and in general), and it will be a great refresh to get a first-hand glance about nowadays Finland.
Of course, I could visit the country by myself, as I actually did in 2000, 2001 and 2004, after the YJP in 1998, but it would not be the same: the added value to participate in such a programme is striking. I would also be able to find new stories about Finland.
After the YJP in 1998 (and other personal trips) I published quite many reportages connected with Finland in different countries and languages, among others: Sodankylä Film Festival, interviews with Aki and Mikä Kaurismäki and Arto Paasilinnä, travel articles about the country (Lapland), the peculiarities of Åland, Huutajat, the Sami minority situation, Nuntii Latini, the Sauna feeling, Hanoi Rocks, etc.
I was even thinking about writing a book about Finland, collecting some of the stories I wrote in the past and getting back there could be a chance to renew this project.
Moreover, it will be great to see again familiar places and people, and hopefully to get the same deep feelings of being there as it happened 18 years ago (oh my God, how time flies!)