Dinner for Alumni at FinnFest, Hancock, MI, 2013

FinnFest is an annual celebration in the U.S. of Finnish-American history, culture, and Finnish heritage.  Fulbright Center participated in the 2011 FinnFest held in San Diego, CA, and also in the 2013 30th anniversary FinnFest held in Houghton and Hancock, Michigan.

Midnight captured by Marlene Broemer at the FinnFest midsummer bonfire, kayakers on Lake Superior.
Alumni of the Finnish Fulbright Program participated in the 2013 FinnFest, June 19-23.  Besides attending numerous lectures, recitations, films, musical entertainments, etc., several alumni volunteered their time at the Fulbright Center Tori booth, sharing information with FinnFest goers about the Fulbright grant opportunities and about living and studying in Finland.  Thanks to Julene Johnson (2010 MCPD grantee at the University of Jyväskylä), Margaret and Gerry Schueman (1996 Teacher Exchange with Kaarinen lukio), Annette Oppedahl (1958 student grantee at University of Helsinki), Beverly Harju (1999 scholar at University of Tampere), Marlene Broemer (2000 student grantee at University of Helsinki), and Suzanne Louis (2001 MCPD grantee at Helsinki University of Technology) for their Tori-time.


9 Fulbright alumni (7 American and 2 Finnish) gave lectures at FinnFest:

Ulla Aatsinki, 2009 Finnish Scholar to Michigan Technical University, lecture:  Americanization, Education, and Finnish Americans in the 1920s: Finnish Americans as Educators

Päivi Hakkarainen,  2011 SIR grantee  to Finlandia University, lecture: Hei Suomi! : Finnish Language Culture Lessons in a Finnish American School

Julene Johnson and Margaret and Gerry Schueman at the Fulbright Center’s Tori booth.

Arnold R. Alanen,  1968 University of Helsinki student grantee, now emeritus at U Wisconsin-Madison--Landscape Architecture, 2  lectures: Making of “Finns in Minnesota” (published by Minnesota Historical Society press 2012)  and Finnish Rural Buildings and Landscapes in Michigan’s UP  

Marlene Broemer, 2000 Graduate Student to Helsinki University, now teaching in Portland , OR area,  lecture: Edith Södergran: Poet between Two Borders, Two Wars 

Tim Frandy, 2010 student grantee to ULapland, recently finished PhD at University of Wisconsin, 3  lectures:  Sami Noaidi Tales: Religious Shift and Tensions in Sami Oral Traditions;   Lust, Labor and Lawlessness: The Bad Finn in Finnish American Folksong; Seeing the Forest for the Trees: Birch Leaves, Reindeer, and Sustainability among Sami Reindeer Herders 

Julene Johnson, 2010 MCPD grantee to Jyväskylä,  from UC San Francisco, playing the kantele with  “Kantele Splash”  

Paul Niemistö,  1998 Core scholar  to multiple hosts, Sibelius Museum, Folk Music Institute, Finnish War Archives, Professor of Music at St. Olaf, Northfield, MN ,   lecture: The Writing of “Cornets and Pickaxes”: A Journey through Finnish American History; also Paul’s  Ameriikan Poijat brass band will perform several times during FinnFest

Carl Rahkonen, 1983 student grantee  at Sibelius Academy,  teaching at Music Department, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, member of the FinnFest USA Board of Directors;  lecture:  Martti Nisonen: Composer of the Copper Country

Sue Saffle,  2000 Bicentennial Chair- spouse, Helsinki University, lecture: Toward a Collection of Finnish War Child Stories

photo by David Van Ongevalle

And on mid-summer, Friday evening June 21, 21 alumni and family shared dinner together and reminisced about their time in Finland.  When introducing themselves to the group, invariably some comment such as “It was the best 6 months of my life” or “My time in Finland on the Fulbright changed my life” were made.  So incoming Fulbright grantee, Yue Li from Michigan Technical University was prompted to say “I am looking forward to the best 6 months of my life!”  When he arrives in Helsinki in August 2013, we plan to make it so…

More photos from FinnFest 2013 can be found here.