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Tuulia Nieminen

Want to do your share for international Finland? Embrace the Twinkle movement!

Back in my youth, internationalisation was a cool thing. It was like a high-quality educational system: not easy to achieve, but something that Finns strived for together. Many businesses added the prefix “Euro-” to their name. If an academic institution or programme was called “international”, it was guaranteed to attract the top applicants.

That era was the 1990’s, a period of major economic difficulty for Finland. But Finland saw the benefits of closer connections with the world outside.

Things are different today. In a very short time, xenophobic and racist forums have boomed on the internet. Some of parents now boast on social media that they want to pull their children out of school diversity education (thankfully, the law prohibits this). This list could go on, but I am not going to give extra visibility to these things by repeating them here.If Finland follows this direction further, it will become a true nightmare version of itself.

I admire those who roam social media channels and chat forums in order to calmly set facts straight or who politely challenge beliefs based on biased information. But personally, I couldn’t bear the effect which that xenophobic, misogynist, racist mass of text ultimately has on a regular reader – even if that reader is armoured with a critical viewpoint.

Luckily, I found myself an alternative way of doing something. Joining the Twinkle movement has allowed me to do my little bit to counter the nightmare vision of Finland in a way that is positive and hands-on. I have tweeted, bloggedblogged again and written a press release. Yes, I have had to put my professional skills to use at weekends and evenings, but the work has inspired me.

I also found more personal sources of motivation once I got involved in the Twinkle movement. I have met Daryna with an amazing raw talent for marketing, the multitasking superwoman KatjaEashan with a mad sense of humour and ability to tweet twice over in the time that it takes most of us to lift a finger, as well as the incredibly wise Gloria, whose own experiences have motivated her to make Finland a better place for young internationals. I have met Finns who sacrifice their free time even though helping out could be just a part of their daily job (MarjukkaLaura,Katariina, Minna and others, you know who you are). And many more. I’m hoping that these new connections last beyond the TWINKLE2015 event.

Those are my personal experiences and hopes.

Put together, personal experiences like mine become something bigger. Finland needs the innovations and positive atmosphere that could spin out of the Twinkle network and people associated with it. This should interest internationals and Finns alike. Twinkle is about much more than the event. It is a way to show the benefits of an international, multicultural, open Finland – and to say aloud that, “Yes, this is what we want!”

If I have managed to convince you that my experience with the Twinkle movement has been wonderful and worthwhile, then I have good news for you: now is a perfect moment to join the movement! You can still get a ticket for the event. You can follow us on TwitterFacebookTeamUp,Instagram and Periscope. You can tweet and post or like tweets and posts to show your support and spread the word about Twinkle. Or, you can make some noise about internationalisation more generally. In fact, Independence Day is a perfect day to show that you care about Finland and want it to be international. Go on, tweet about it! Add #Twinkle2015 to that tweet if you want to let us know, too.

Tuulia Nieminen

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