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Arctic Dialogues: Building Cultural Bridges

Tikkurila storytelling workshop (©State Dept.)

“Arctic Dialogues: Building Cultural Bridges” is a U.S. Embassy project that unites Finland and Alaska and it coincides with Finland’s chairmanship of the Arctic Council. Finland followed the U.S. as the chair of the Arctic Council in May 2017; the Finnish chairmanship runs until 2019.

“Arctic Dialogues: Building Cultural Bridges” includes two components: a visit to Finland by an Alaskan children’s book and travel author Tricia Brown; and storytelling workshops uniting high school students in the Northern and Southern Finland as well as in Alaska.

Storytelling Workshops Unite Teenagers in the Northern and Southern Finland as well as Alaska (Oct.-Nov. 2017)

The U.S. Embassy Finland sponsored a Finnish rapper and spoken word artist Rauhatäti (Hanna Yli-Tepsa) to teach storytelling workshops in Ivalo and Tikkurila  in Finland. Around the same time, an Alaskan musician Emily Anderson taught a similar workshop, sponsored through a non-profit run by Kris Capps, to students at Tri-Valley and Nenana in Alaska. The Alaska workshops were arranged by Karen Martin, an Alaskan teacher, who has visited Finland as a Fulbright teacher.

During the workshops, students explored their Arctic identity, wrote their own texts, and performed them to others. The students had the opportunity to learn about each other through a closed Instagram account and a closed Facebook group. A booklet introducing the Finnish and Alaskan participants including their names, photos, interests, and general descriptions of their hometowns and the Arctic region was also distributed.

The students were asked to describe the Arctic area in three words. The top 3 used by students in Finland included: cold; beautiful; and freezing. The 3 used by students in Alaska included: cold; fun; and dark.

Interview of Hanna Yli-Tepsa describing the project on Youtube (in Finnish with English subtitles; 8’14 mins)

Alaskan author Tricia Brown (©State Dept.)

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Arctic Dialogues with Alaskan Author Tricia Brown (Oct. 21-28, 2017)

Alaskan children’s book and travel author Tricia Brown visited Finland October 21 – 28, 2017, as part of a U.S. Embassy program to strengthen grassroots dialogues between the United States and Finland on Arctic issues. During her program she had a chance to meet and interact with Finns of all ages, all walks of life, both in the South as well as the North.

in Helsinki, Tricia read several of her children’s stories at an international kindergarten and led a creative writing workshop for senior students at Tikkurila high school. She also participated in a roundtable discussion with Arctic experts at the U.S. Embassy, visited the National Library of Finland, and gave a public lecture “Who Owns the Stories?” at the Helsinki University Library.

In Rovaniemi, Tricia visited Arktikum and participated in a panel on the Arctic as a source of inspiration with Finnish authors Kirste Paltto, Tittamari Marttinen, and Anu Ojala at a public event arranged at the beautiful, Alvar Aalto-planned Rovaniemi city library. After nearly six hours on a bus, Tricia presented at the Sámi cultural center Sajos, had an incredible tour of Siida, and introduced students at the Sámi education center SAKK to Alaskan native pieces of arts and crafts. In Ivalo, Tricia talked about her life and work as an author in Alaska with Ivalo high school students.

More photos of Tricia Brown’s visit available at the Flickr album.

Related article: A Whirlwind Week in Finland by Tricia Brown. November 8, 2017.