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Kalimera Thessaloniki, Moin Bremen - Greetings to the Finnish expatriates

My recent posts have dealt with my departure from Bremen (over one year ago) and with my memories of political changes in Germany. In addition to this it is appropriate to share some memories of the good time that I have had with the Finnish expatriate communities - both in Thessaloniki, northern Greece and in Bremen, northern Germany.

Kalimera Thessaloniki - facing Mount Olympus (1995 - 2002)

I landed to Thessaloniki when Cedefop (the European Centre for the development of vocational training) was relocated from Berlin to Thessaloniki in the year 1995. This happened due to a bizarre story of political decision-making - too long to be told here. Any way, I found myself there as one of the former Berlin oldies and now as a Thessaloniki newcomer. Very soon I got settled to the village of Thermi, near the new location of Cedefop - and I had a view to Mount Olympus from my living room when the weather was clear. (Later on, when the new building of Cedefop got ready, I also had a view to Olympus from my office - but only when the weather was clear.)

I was the only Finn among the Cedefop staff and I had no idea that there would be a Finnish community out there. But, with the help of Scottish expatriates I became aware of them - and they found me. We firstly had a get-together evening in Thermi (in Ouzeri Peirasmos) and then I got involved in their activities. To my surprise they had a "Finnish School" (Suomi-koulu) for the bilingual children of Finnish expatriates every Saturday. I was pleased to visit them every now and then - and to bring other Finnish visitors with me. Also, we had the chance to attend to several cultural events with reference to Finland or to European anniversaries. (Later on I have heard that many of the children of that time have studied in Finland and made a career as Finnish professional.)

One of the highlights was the celebration of the 80th Independence day of Finland on the 6th of December 1997 - again in Thermi and Peirasmos. Another highlight was the establishment of Finnish community in Northerb Greece as a regional branch association of the umbrella organisation of Finnish expatriates (Pohjois-Kreikan Suomi-Seura). It so happens that this association is now celebrating its twentieth anniversary (see the invitation below). So, let me share my congratulations in Finnish and in Greek:

Paljon onnea - Chronia polla!

Moin Bremen - zwischen Viertel, Walle und Fallturm (2005 - 2020)

My second period as an expatriate was due to my employment as a European and international researcher at the Institut Technik und Bildung (ITB), University of Bremen. I had had close contact with the institute already since 1989 and I shared the same ideas with them. So, I was pretty much one of them from the very beginning of my employment. Thus, I did not expect to get involved with Finnish expatriates in Bremen.

However, the history repeated itself. Firstly I had some chance meetings with some Bremen Finns. Then, the celebration of the 100th Independence Day of Finland (throughout the year 2017)turned out to be the big bang. I firstly attended the opening event with focus on the rights of the Sami people (the indigenous people in Finnish Lapland). Then I go acquainted with the Finnish school (Suomi-koulu) in Bremen and visited them as a story-teller couple of times. I also got involved in the Finnish (Lutheran) parish of Bremen and their community-events. And some of us were actively involved in the events of the "Pulse of Europe" movement in 2017 and 2018. For me the highlight was the celebration of the 100th anniversary of Finland on the 6th of December 2017 in the restaurant "Ständige Vertretung in Bremen (near the central market place where the statue of Roland keeps guard of the well-being of the citizens).

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So, at this point I wish all the best to the eexpatriate Finnish communities in Thessaloniki and in Bremen: Chronia polla! Guten rutsch!

More blogs to come (but on different topics) ...

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