2016-2020 FoFF Events


Alumni Get-Together in Philadelphia

Friends of Fulbright Finland got together in Philadelphia for a delightful evening at the home of U.S. Fulbright scholar alum, Professor Philip Alperson and Professor Mary Hawkesworth. In addition to U.S. alumni and friends of the program from multiple years, the event was also attended by a current Finnish grantee living in Philadelphia and even a future U.S. grantee from Pennsylvania getting ready to move to Finland for her Fulbright next fall. 


Fulbright Finland Afterparty

Over 50 Friends of Fulbright Finland gathered together at the Bicentennial Apartment on Liisankatu, in the Kruununhaka district of Helsinki, for the first ever afterparty organized by the Fulbright Finland Foundation. This event, which followed the annual Fulbright Finland Grant Award Ceremony and Reception at Helsinki City Hall, brought together current U.S. Fulbright grantees and Fulbright Finland alumni and their spouses. We had the honor to host alumni who had been in Finland as grantees as long ago as the late 1970’s! Guests included several former Bicentennial Chairs who were able to revisit the place they once called home. Many alumni were in Finland to participate in the Maple Leaf and Eagle Conference organized by the University of Helsinki, May 15-18, 2018.

Throughout the evening, memories of Finland were shared… stories and laughter were abundant. Many old friends met again and new friendships were made. Topics of conversation ranged from politics and sports to traveling and research projects. As the evening progressed, one could hear many promises to meet again, so just like the little gift bags from the Fulbright Finland team say -- “Hyvää kesää, see you soon!”


Friends of Fulbright Finland Alumni Reception to Celebrate the Centennial of Finland

Ambassador Kirsti Kauppi welcomed American alumni of the Finnish Fulbright program from the Washington D.C. area, and friends, to the Ambassador’s Residence on November 10, celebrating Suomi Finland 100 Centenary together.  During the evening, discussion was animated, with the 40 plus guests sharing news about their current projects and memories about their time in Finland and being a Fulbrighter.  Many shared plans they have to revisit Finland, to connect with Finnish colleagues and hosts, and to find new ways to make Finland more visible on the American scene. 

Alumni Ken Kolson (2006 U.S. Fulbright Scholar in Political Science) and Peter MacKeith (1989 Fulbright Graduate Student in Architecture) were presented with certificates of appreciation by Terhi Mölsä. Both have made significant contributions to ensure the strength of the alumni program and to the future of Fulbright Finland. In a surprise move, Mike Loovis (FoFF Council member and 2010 U.S. Fulbright Scholar in Education), presented the Ambassador with a photo of the “Spirit of Finland”  sculpture by Ken Valimaki that now marks the entry to the Finnish Heritage Museum in Fairport Harbor, Ohio.


Alumni Gathering in Minneapolis

Former Fulbright Finland scholars and grantees gathered in Minneapolis on May 12

Eight people responded to the call to attend the Happy Hour for Fulbright Finland at the Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Study conference in Minneapolis, May 2017. The conference began with a tour of St. Olaf College’s archival libraries, and it was good news to hear that this Norwegian archive is also collecting works by other Nordic authors, including Finnish-American authors.  Fulbright alumni, grantees and scholars are encouraged to make their works available to the St. Olaf archives. Books can be donated, or the libraries can be advised of purchase agreements. The archives are being upgraded to be more climate- controlled and able to accommodate dated and archival documents from previous centuries.

The SASS conferences  schedule was intense, so finding a convenient time for the alumni get-together was a challenge.  It was wonderful to meet FLTA grantees from Finland, who came to talk about their experiences teaching Finnish language in Minnesota and Indiana.  A Fulbright scholar from the 1950s also came to share her book and give us all some perspective on how far, broad and wide the Fulbright experience in Finland has been and continues to be.

We sampled some delicious appetizers from the very creative kitchen at the Hyatt Regency and enjoyed getting to know each other, and of course some of us had met earlier in the day at the various conference sessions recognizing the 100th anniversary of  Finland’s independence.


  • Marlene Broemer, Finlandia University (2000 Fulbright scholar at University of Helsinki) The Chronotope of Independence: War and History in Some Poems of Edith Södergran and  Nordic Crime Fiction
  • Andrew Nestingen, University of Washington (1996 Fulbright student at University of Helsinki) Belonging and Difference over 100 Years: Kaurismäki on Finland’s Centenary
  • Kendra Willson, University of Turku (2011 Scholar at Turku) Finno-Ugric Studies, A Saga King in a Finnish Beijing Opera
  • Jason Lavery, Oklahoma State University, docent at University of Helsinki (1992 Fulbrighter to Austria, in History) Advantages and Hindrances: Mikael Agricola as a Writing Reformer
  • Karen Erickson, Southern New Hampshire University (1959 scholar at University of Helsinki) book on Finnish correspondence is forthcoming
  • Elisa Räsänen, (2013 FLTA grantee at Indiana University)
  • Kirsi Leskinen, (2016 FLTA grantee at University of Minnesota)


Alumni Get-Together in Denver

Friends of Fulbright Finland got together in Colorado hosted in the home of alumna Nancy Commins.  Nancy and her husband Ken Wilson spent a Fulbright grant period in Turku in 2010-11.

Six alumni and numerous friends, including Honorary Consul for Colorado, Juha Mäkikalli, enjoyed a summer picnic on June 4.  An update about the latest news from the Fulbright Center in Helsinki revealed that the FC has a new legal foundation and will now be known as “Fulbright Finland.”  This will facilitate plans to develop additional funding sources, including the Centennial Fund and the FoFF Alumni Enrichment Fund.

Other topics of conversation included plans for the 2017 celebration of Finland’s 100th anniversary of independence, and how Fulbright alumni can get involved in events being held in the US.  Also, the second round of competition for the FoFF Alumni Enrichment Award will open later in the summer.