Team Finland Needs Fulbright Alumni

Exchange programs in the fields of science and education offer people the opportunity to experience the culture and society of another country. The Fulbright Center in Finland does unique work in this respect. In addition to its academic merits the Fulbright program helps to create lasting networks and sustained cooperation in these fields.

The Fulbright program has been an integral part of the relations between Finland and the United States already over 60 years.  The success of the Finnish basic education system in the international PISA tests has created a strong interest in the United States. This interest we also see in the Fulbright Program. American policy makers and experts are now looking closely at this outstanding Finnish expertise area.  

Teachers and other specialists of education travel regularly from the United States to Finland to find out how our schools function. They visit different schools, talk to officials and sometimes even enjoy a free school meal with the students and teachers. In addition, school groups or groups of teachers, principals and teachers-unions visit the Embassy and Consulate Generals every week to learn what makes Finland so successful when it comes to education.

Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland?, a recent book by Dr. Pasi Sahlberg, has been a hit in the United States and we have been handing out thousands of copies of it to share best practices and to start up an inspiring dialogue. The American interest has extended to our universities and higher education as well, and there is plenty of room for further development. Hopefully this interest will turn into an even stronger long-term research cooperation and student exchange programs.

Finland is known not only for its world-class education system, but also for its innovation, high technology and cultural achievements. To further promote long-term cooperation between Finland and the United States, we have recently launched the Team Finland USA partnership. The idea of this nationwide network is to promote Finland’s external economic relations and country brand, the internationalization of Finnish companies, as well as foreign investment in Finland.

The Fulbright alumni in the U.S. are a very valuable group of experts who know Finland well. To enhance the Finnish-American relations it is very important to get the Fulbright alumni involved in the Team Finland activities. I am confident that there is a lot of potential interest and untapped energy when it comes to engaging the alumni in various fields of cooperation. I welcome you to contact the Embassy or the Finnish Consulate Generals in the United States with any ideas to further develop the alumni cooperation. I am confident that our two countries have a lot to learn from each other in the ways we want to enhance and deepen our relations further.  

Ritva Koukku-Ronde
Ambassador of Finland to the United States of America

Published in the Fulbright Center News 1/2013