2018 Alumni Association Events

Season’s Greetings Patry and St. Lucia’s Day Parade

December 13, 2018
ASLA-Alumni pikkujoulu was organized on Dec 13 starting with watching the traditional St. Lucia's Day Parade and continuing with dinner at restaurant Roster.

Creative World Banquet - A Fulbright Finland Alumni Event in Kouvola

November 8, 2018
Fulbright Alumni event in Kouvola was organized by three Fulbright Finland Alumni at the Xamk Creative Industries Unit, Dr. Tiina Nevanperä, MSc. Ari Lindeman and Dr. Valdemar Kallunki in conjuction of the international game week. The event brought together Finnish Fulbright Alumni, current grantees as well as dozens of students and experts from the game industry. Read more about the event below from an article written by Kirsi Cheas 2018 President of the ASLA-Fulbright Alumni Association.

”Tonight, we have been joined by special guests. These guests are FULBRIGHTERS! Yes! They are amazing people! Make sure to get to know them, to challenge them, and to learn from them!”

With these powerful words, Dr. Tiina Nevanperä opened the Creative World Banquet – a Fulbright Alumni event organized on November 8, 2018 in connection with the international Game Week in Kouvola. Next to Tiina, the event was planned and hosted by two other Finnish Fulbright alumni affiliated with the South-Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences (Xamk): MSc. Ari Lindeman and Dr. Valdemar Kallunki. Their initiative is an excellent example of how Fulbright alumni can contribute to and enrich the activities of the ASLA-Fulbright Alumni Association, while connecting Fulbrighters with the society and academia at large: in addition to Finnish Fulbright alumni and an American Fulbright grantee, Harrison Mansour, the event brought together dozens of students and experts from the game industry, introducing them to Fulbrighters and vice versa.

As she was welcoming everyone, Tiina could not have sounded more excited. This same genuine enthusiasm had guided the preparation of this magnificent event from its earliest stages, while its timely topic underlies its importance: With the development of new technology and applications, the gaming industry is constantly expanding, and games and apps are also increasingly used as tools to promote well-being and to share information between different sectors of society. As a crucial part of their work as research managers at Xamk, Tiina, Ari, and Valdemar specialize on creative work vis-à-vis technology, encouraging dialogue between students and experts across different disciplines and nationalities to come up with new solutions to complex challenges of our times and in the future. These goals are very similar to those of the Fulbright program, designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and around the world. Through the Creative World Banquet, we wanted to celebrate these important connections, while encouraging the exchange of ideas between Finnish Fulbright alumni, American Fulbright grantees, and Finnish and international attendees of the Game Week as well as students and faculty of Xamk.

Tiina’s talk was followed by a welcome speech by Magnus Backström, vice president of our ASLA-Fulbright Alumni Association. Magnus explained the origins and unique character of the Finnish Fulbright program and goals of our Alumni Association. While Magnus was talking, a waitress was circulating the hall, offering welcoming drinks featuring different bright colors: orange, turquoise, purple… When Magnus finished, Tiina returned to the stage and surprised all of us: go and find people with drinks of similar color as yours, and join them in tables which will form “Advisory rings.” What a fun way to form groups! We all had something in common – a preference for a color – but very different backgrounds. Each “ring” was then given a particular challenge to which we had to create a solution. Even if the atmosphere was playful, the challenges were far from easy: How could we use digital tools and games to prevent young people from societal marginalization? How could we use digital tools and games to enhance children’s psychological and social capacity? What kinds of applications could contribute to the well-being of the elderly? How could the Baltic Sea be protected and its further contamination prevented with the help of digital tools and games?

After fifteen minutes of intensive interaction, each group got to present our ideas to everyone in the room. All the groups had come up with multifaceted and thoughtful solutions, reflecting the diverse knowhow of the different group members. For instance, in the group which discussed the Baltic Sea, one student proposed a vertical cultivation technique which is ecologically sustainable, as he was familiar with such methods. Another student, building on his own experience in the gaming industry, then suggested that one of the most frustrating experiences while playing a game is the incapability to win. Thus the group planned a game where the player is expected to clean the Baltic Sea – without being able to do so, despite trying very hard. Through such a frustrating experience, the player was expected to realize that ruining our environment can be an irrevocable act. As we were told that we could proceed to fill our dinner plates, the groups still continued talking about their own themes as well as those of the other groups, considering whether we could actually make these things happen in real life and what other solutions could be developed. This surprising task was a wonderful way to “break the ice” and get different people to share their backgrounds and thoughts and ask brave and unexpected questions from others. This activity also aptly showed that even if the challenges are serious, finding solutions can be a fun activity, and the process can teach us just as much as the end result.

The dinner time was a perfect opportunity to talk freely with the different participants in the event. As we proceeded to dessert, Tiina again got up on the stage, this time to present a visiting performer – a junior magician! This young artist was a natural talent, and he made sure to engage the audience from the first moment. Soon, Finnish Fulbright alumna Päivi Parkkonen was invited on stage to be the magician’s helper, clueless of what was about to happen. Equipped with a sensational sense of humor, the magician seemed just as clueless, as his endless magic wands would miraculously bend in Päivi’s hands, and, against all odds, little red balls would multiply in Päivi’s fist.

Päivi’s radiant smile and relaxed appearance on stage showed that this was not the first time she was exposed to the unexpected. Of course not – she is a Fulbright alumna! The best way to make the most of the Fulbright program is to actively take part in diverse enrichment activities, including those that are not related to our own field of expertise. In this way, our awareness always grows, while we become more empathetic toward other people, and capable of understanding different life styles, practices, and ideas. In this way, the Fulbright program can prepare us to come up with unique ideas and challenge common assumptions of what is and is not possible. Likewise, people designing and playing games are constantly faced with the question: how can we get to the next level? Playing and creating games requires creativity and ability to think outside the box. The magician demonstrated that what we perceive as impossible can actually happen, if we just try hard enough. In this sense, learning itself is a magical experience – and this was certainly the case throughout this event.

The ASLA-Fulbright Alumni Association wants to express profound thanks to Ari, Tiina, and Valdemar for their initiative and hard work.

Text by Kirsi Cheas

Fulbrighter Happy Hour in Turku

October 12, 2018
The ASLA-Fulbright Alumni Association organized a relaxed networking event and met the new U.S. grantees and local Fulbright alumni over drinks at the Restaurant Koulu. The “Fulbrighter Happy Hour” took place in conjuction with the American Voices seminar at the University of Turku.

Fulbrighter Meetup & an extraordinary General Meeting

September 27, 2018
Fulbright Finland alumni met the first Finnish Fulbrighters for 2019-2020 and the new U.S. Fulbright grantees to Finland over a glass of wine and refreshments. This casual networking event concluded the first orientation organized for the new Finnish graduate student grantees.

The Meet-up was followed by an extraordinary General Meeting of ASLA-Fulbright Alumni Association which was open for the association members to participate if interested. The topic of the meeting was reformation of the articles of the association.

Visit to Crisis Management Initiative (CMI)

August 17, 2018
The ASLA-Fulbright Alumni Association provided its members and current U.S. Fulbright grantees a unique opportunity to visit the highly-esteemed office of the Crisis Management Initiative founded by Nobel Peace laureate and former President of Finland Martti Ahtisaari. The event was hosted by a Fulbright Finland Alumna Johanna Poutanen who works at CMI as a Senior Manager in their Women in Peacemaking team and by CMI’s Program Director Itonde Kakoma who is also a Member of the Fulbright Finland Foundation Board of Directors. During the visit, we learned about the interesting and impactful work of the CMI and had also an opportunity to network with your fellow Fulbrighters.

Welcome event

August 29, 2018
The event was organized in honor of the new U.S. Fulbrighters and returning Finnish grantees. The event was a great opportunity to network and connect with fellow Fulbrighters and learn more about the Fulbright Finland Alumni community. 

Fine Dining and Food for the Soul

May 5, 2018
ASLA-Fulbright Alumni Association members and current U.S. grantees gathered together to visit the Museum Gösta in Mänttä. The Museum collections are known for the masterpieces of Finnish Golden Age of art as well as old European masters. 

2018 ASLA-Fulbright Alumni Association Annual General Meeting

March 12, 2018
ASLA-Fulbright Alumni Association organized it's Annual General Meeting in mid-March at Fulbright Finland Foundation. Annual General Meetings are where, for example, the board for the next year is chosen.

Alumni Ice-skating and coffee with the new U.S. Fulbrighters

January 24, 2018
The Fulbright Finland alumni and the new U.S. Fulbrighters had a great time at the Icepark in Helsinki on January 24th. After ice-skating, the group enjoyed hot drinks near by at the Ateneum Museum's Bistro.

Talk by Tieto-Finlandia Prize Winner Ville Kivimäki

January 10, 2018
Fulbright alumnus Dr. Ville Kivimäki, a winner of Tieto-Finlandia nonfiction prize for Murtuneet mielet/Broken Minds spoke about his topic of silence as an object of historical understanding and the historicity of silence in general. The event also offered an opportunity to ask questions and discuss the theme with Dr. Kivimäki as well as network with fellow Fulbrighters - Finnish and American.