Referencing the ribbon on her dress, Salolampi dean Amy “Iida” Tervola Hultberg ’98 greeted the many guests and supporters for the Finnish Language Village’s 40th anniversary celebration.
“We are all cut from the same spool,” Tervola Hultberg said.
The unifying symbol was represented with each person receiving a piece of ribbon to wear. Pulling together is how the Finnish Language Village has operated from the very beginning. Salolampi came to be through the dedication of the Finnish American Committee that later would become the Salolampi Foundation. The Village began on leased campsites with the hopes of a culturally authentic location being built on Turtle River Lake in the future. The Salolampi Foundation, along with development efforts by Concordia College and Concordia Language Villages, secured the necessary funds to bring that hope to reality.
“I love the vision of this place,” Concordia College President William Craft said to the crowd, many of whom had invested time and money to make Salolampi a reality. “I love that I’m standing here and I’m standing in the midst of your dreams.”
Ambassador of Finland to the United States Kirsti Kauppi also applauded the work of the Finnish Language Village. The Finnish embassy recognized the anniversary of Salolampi by sending cultural counselor Annina Aalto to represent them at the celebration. Salolampi’s anniversary coincided with the centenary of Finland’s independence – which was celebrated in significant ways in other parts of the United States. Kauppi noted the immersive experience of the Language Village is a useful and efficient way to learn the language.
“There are approximately 700,000 people in the United States of Finnish descent. They form a wonderful, valuable ‘human bridge’ between Finland and the United States,” Kauppi said. “We also love the idea that any friend of Finland, with or without Finnish ancestry, would be interested in our culture and language and have the chance to study it. Therefore, the work done at Concordia Language Villages and Salolampi is extremely useful.”
The president of the Salolampi Foundation, John Hanson, stressed the importance of giving every child a chance who wants to learn Finnish. The foundation is so dedicated to the cause that they conduct an annual fundraising campaign for scholarships. The foundation gave more than $60,000 in scholarships this past summer.
“The unique relationship between Concordia Language Villages and the Salolampi Foundation is something we do not take for granted and want to encourage and foster this relationship for many years to come,” Hanson said.
So what gives this Village and these people the determination to be such proponents of Finnish language? Throughout the celebration, the leadership staff noted a Finnish concept called sisu. The word represents the characteristic of a Finn. Grit. Gumption. Can-do spirit. And the people who embody this idea will persevere.
“In the future, we will continue to face new challenges,” Hanson said. “It will need sisu. Let us say to all of those challenges, ‘It can be done.’”