The Fulbright Finland Foundation celebrated the 70th anniversary of the ASLA-Fulbright Exchanges and the Centennial of Finnish-U.S. diplomatic relations at the Finnish Embassy in Washington D.C. in May. The event brought together over 80 alumni, current and future grantees, program partners and other friends of Fulbright Finland to network and enjoy a full evening with surprise entertainment and Nordic buffet.
Many guests represented organizations in the international education sector and various government departments that have been working with Fulbright over the years. Especially gratifying was the fact that so many Fulbrighters traveled great distances to share this unique opportunity to celebrate such important milestones together.
Evening of Surprise Entertainment
“Largo al factotum”, or Figaro’s aria, as it is more commonly known, started playing and Simon Barrad, baritone and 2015-2016 U.S. Fulbright Fellow, darted through the audience taking selfies while singing one of the most notoriously difficult songs in the operatic repertoire. Barrad surprised the guests by singing the concluding lines in Finnish.
A featured moment in the program was the presentation of the glass Kuksas, designed and created by U.S. Fulbright Fellow Jonathan Capps. Glass artist Capps designed and created a limited edition of glass Kuksas to honor the 70th Anniversary of ASLA-Fulbright. They will be given during the anniversary year as tributes of appreciation to individuals and institutions that have significantly contributed to the Fulbright Finland Foundation.
Chief Executive Officer Terhi Mölsä honored the founders of the ASLA-Fulbright program, the governments of Finland and the United States by presenting the first Kuksas to Ambassador Kirsti Kauppi and Assistant Secretary of State Marie Royce, representatives of the Finnish and U.S. governments respectively. “While founded by the two governments, the Fulbright Finland program has become embraced by the civil society and individuals and institutions in both countries in a manner that has raised it onto levels that only broad and genuine collaboration can bring about,” Mölsä said in her remarks.
Remarks of Recognition
ASLA-Fulbright program’s unique history and its current engagement with the public-private sector were highlights of the official remarks. Ambassador Kirsti Kauppi focused on Fulbright Finland’s role in the diplomatic relations between Finland and the U.S.: “Fulbright Finland has been a big part of the relations between the U.S. and Finland. These connections that have been built through these exchanges are irreplaceable. They are connections between people, and very much also between institutions. I’m so glad about the fact that this highway is now used in both directions, and the benefits that we as individuals, as institutions and as nations get from this highway are really beneficial for both of us.”
Elaborating on the connection between Finland and the United States, Assistant Secretary of State Marie Royce said: “On the Finnish side, the funding for Fulbright Finland comes from an impressive variety of sources. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t use Fulbright Finland as an excellent example of private-public partnerships. The Finnish program shows how partners in both public and private sectors can support Fulbright at every level.”
Thank you to all who came to celebrate with us, and to Ambassador Kauppi and the Embassy of Finland for hosting us.
Dialogue on Education and Innovation
Before the Anniversary Celebration, the Fulbright Finland alumni and Ilkka Turunen, Finland’s new Counsellor of Education, Research, and Innovation
had an informal dialogue on what is new in Finnish higher education, research, and innovation. The discussion highlighted the importance of cooperation between Finnish and U.S. institutions and inspired concrete ideas for joint actions in the future.
A guided tour around the Embassy building, including the famous diplomatic sauna, concluded this special event.