Exchange student from Finland speaks at Rotary Club; returns home with NKY student

By Andy Furman
NKyTribune reporter

Class, today’s geography lesson takes us to Finland – Espoo to be exact. And if you’re wondering, that’s only 4,497 miles from Covington.

No need to worry, we have for you Anni Nurminen, in the flesh, from Espoo to tell you all about her homeland. The 17-year-old Miss Nurminen was the featured guest speaker at the Covington Rotary Club’s weekly lunch at the Raddison Hotel. She is part of The Rotary Youth Exchange Program – but more on that, later.

Rotary co-presidents Dave Meyer and Gil Fauber with exchange student Anni Nurminen of Finland. (Photo by Andy Furman/NKyTribune)

First Finland.

Anni told the lunch crowd the official language of her homeland is Finnish and Swedish. “Our currency is the Euro, and our population is 5.5 million,” she said with the aid of her slide presentation.

If you’re a Jeopardy buff, you will need to know the capital is Helsinki. Finland is the Land of a Thousand Lakes, with 75% of the area covered by forests, and has over two-million saunas.

“Yes,” Anni said, “We love saunas in Finland; and then jump in the cold water. My hometown (Espoo) has about 300,000 people and about 41 percent is covered with water.”

Her Covington visit isn’t her first to America. “I visited New York City with my parents when I was about 10,” she recalled. This time she said she tried the pizza – but no chili.

And speaking of food, she could not stop raving about the Kentucky breakfasts. “I am amazed at the breakfast foods,” she told the group, “And I’ve tried Thai food and love it.”

She also mentioned she was shocked with all the Stop signs on the roads.

When asked if she would consider continue her schooling in the United States she quickly said: “I do not think so. Our schools are free and we have free health care.”

She skis, loves to play golf and enjoys crafts – knitting, art, and cooking, she says.

Anni has a twin sister – Kaisa – as well as a 22-year-old brother Olli, who is studying IT at the university.

“I have not decided yet what I want to do or study in the future,” she told the Northern Kentucky Tribune. “I have chosen Upper Secondary School for now; and after that I will probably study at the university level.”

Why did she want to participate in the Covington Rotary Club’s Youth Exchange?

“To deepen cultural understanding; improve my language sills, get new memories and experiences and build new friendships,” she said.

Her 30-day exchange – she is living with the Potts Family in Northern Kentucky until mid-July — then, 16-year-old Kara Potts returns the favor and visits Espoo with Anni.

Host families – like the Potts – provide room and board and share their lives with exchange students, involving them in family, community, and cultural activities.

All host families are screened and trained.

High School students who will be 15½ to 19 years old of age when they depart may apply to the exchange program. One must have good grades; the student must be a well-rounded person, demonstrated by his or her participation in school and community volunteering. The student must demonstrate a willingness to learn a foreign language, at least to be able to carry on a basic conversation.

There are two Exchange programs – one is called “Short Term” and lasts a month. A student leaves his or her home country and lives for one month with a host family; then the student from the host family travels to the home of the other student and lives there for a month.

The other Exchange is called “Long Term” and lasts a school year, plus a few days for travel; and orientation.

Unlike the Short-Term Exchange, the Outbounds and Inbounds do not necessarily stay in the home of the other; and they stay with at least two families. A student is provided a monthly stipend by the host Rotary club, and the host family provides room and board to the student.

Anni Nurminen has much to see in her next few weeks here in Northern Kentucky. But she will have even more time to share her homeland with Kara Potts when they arrive in Espoo.

“We have 23-hours of sunlight this time of year,” she said, “So we’ll have plenty of time to see the sites.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *