The Birth

_DSC0766During the last two months I’ve been asked many times about how our new chamber is doing. And every time I’ve said “we’re doing great!” although there has been only little time to  achieve anything. It’s a question to which the one who asks expects only a positive answers. Of course I mean it when I say that we’re doing great. But to me “doing great” can also mean having lots of difficulties and still managing to head on. And that’s what JCI is all about: learning by doing, overcoming obstacles and getting better.

Time flies by but, paradoxically at the same time, these couple months has felt like two years. We started our journey at the end of the last year with just seven people and now there is 26 of us. Our inauguration ceremony was held at hotel Torni and it went beautifully. I was nervous about the whole thing but was the fact that I had to give a speech was mortifying. But of course it went well. Our national president Mervi Vuorinen and the Mayor of Tampere brought their own greetings and the whole event was over sooner than it started, it felt. We were happy and proud but we also knew that now we had to start the real work of building the new chapter of Junior Chamber International, JCI United.

How to be international? (Google doesn’t help, much)

At the very beginning we faced the first problem. How to be international when you start off with seven 100% Finnish people? Should we just start speaking English and BOOM! , we’re international! No. Should we then persuade some of our English speaking friends to join? Not so easy, and by the way, how many non-Finnish people do you personally know here in Tampere? When you think of it, they’re quite few and far between. And then you realise just how un-international we still are up here in the North. Compared to other big cities Tampere has a low percentage of foreigners. In year 2013 in Tampere only about 6% inhabitants were foreigners meanwhile in Vantaa the number was 13%. Let’s not, however, let the numbers fool us. Out of the 13 835 (2013) non-Finnish speaking people it is likely that there are many who would be willing and capable of joining JCI activities. And now, three years later the number have surely increased. In the future, also taking in account the growing immigration rates, there is clearly demand for international chapter in the region.

You might be wondering: “Are your members still 100% Finns?”

No, nor will they ever be again.

Our members of the board will continue posting their thoughts in this blog regularly. I’m glad that you read this far. There must be a reason for that so why not send us a message and join our chapter?

Yours sincerely,

Heikki Viitanen

President 2016