The Finland-U.S. Senate Youth Exchange program (FUSYE) has successfully furthered relations between the two countries for 30 years. FUSYE-program’s little sibling, the Young Ambassadors’ Program, is organized this year for the second time. The Young Ambassador’s is designed to give Finnish youth a chance to experience American life as a member of a local family and community while FUSYE brings American students to Finland each year.
The year 2012 is a very special for the Finland-U.S. Senate Youth Exchange program (FUSYE): the program is celebrating it’s 30th anniversary of furthering relations between Finland and the United States. Finnish culture and expertise has been promoted thought the program in the U.S. since 1982 and the biggest part of the program is the youth exchange, which brings a group of American students to Finland to get to know Finnish society each year. The program was developed in cooperation with the Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of Education and the U.S. state senators act as the program’s godparents. Program is organized by an international student exchange organization Youth For Understanding (YFU).
15 students act as ambassadors of their states in Finland again this summer. Prior to their departure for Finland, the FUSYE scholars attended a pre-departure orientation in Washington, D.C in June. The orientation was designed to prepare the students for the challenges of living in another culture, in particular specific insights about daily life with a Finnish host family and an introduction to the Finnish language.
Another aim of the orientation sessions was to present the students with the opportunity to gain a fresh perspective on their own culture through discussions on U.S. government and politics. The FUSYE scholars were also afforded the opportunity to meet with their respective state Senate officials on Capitol Hill to introduce themselves as this year's "ambassadors" to Finland.
In Finland, Youth for Understanding Finland presented the students with an orientation in Turku to further their preparation for living with a host family and enhance their understanding of Finland’s unique and vibrant culture. Further along their stay, the students will visit the Finnish parliament and hear welcoming addresses by members of parliament and various representatives of government ministries, such as the Minister of Education, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and various experts on Finnish – U.S. relations. The students also meet and hear presentations by leaders of Finnish businesses and receive an introduction to many aspects of world famous Finnish design and architecture with visits to various museums.
In addition to FUSYE, since 2011 there has been a reciprocal program for Finnish students. Youth For Understanding in cooperation with the Center for International Mobility (CIMO) and the U.S. Embassy in Finland offer 15 Finnish high school students an opportunity to participate in the Young Ambassadors’ Program – a full scholarship program designed to educate Finnish youth about environmental matters in the U.S., and to give them a chance to experience American life as a member of a local family.
This summer program is taking place in Colorado, the home state of Bruce Oreck, the U.S. Ambassador to Finland, who is also the patron of this prestigious scholarship program. The participants of the Young Ambassadors Program also attended some orientation in Washington D.C in June.
The summer program will focus on innovations in green technologies and introduce the participants to various initiatives underway in the United States generally and in Colorado in particular. The participants meet with government and non-government officials in Washington, spend 5 weeks living with American families in Colorado and visit institutions in Denver and Boulder which have demonstrated innovation in energy technology.
Since 1982, FUSYE has played an integral role in providing funding for nearly 500 American high school students. The program continues to provide an invaluable experience for young Americans who gain an important perspective on the little known country in Northern Europe.
The purpose of the scholarships is to foster a new generation of future leaders with the knowledge and desire to build bridges of mutual respect and friendship between Finland and the US and to build enthusiasm and public awareness of relations between our two nations. Through these programs, the students will gain knowledge, skills, and insights that will prepare them to be world players. Every day, they will be learning something new about Finnish or American culture, people, art, music, literature, religion, trade, politics, and about themselves.