This semester the Baltic and Finnish Studies Association has been planning some exciting events to celebrate and promote awareness of this region. We reach out not only to students but also to faculty and the local community to celebrate Baltic and Finnish culture with us.
As a cultural organization, we have been marking the holidays most important to the nations within the region. At the moment the focus is on the independence days of Finland, Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia which have all commemorated their centennials in the past year. These anniversaries symbolize the strength of the peoples of the region in the face of past hardships, as well as their victories. In recognition of their resilience, BAFSA has been proud to celebrate their centennials here at IU.
November 2018 saw the last centennial to be celebrated among the Baltic states and Finland: Latvia’s 100th anniversary. To celebrate the occasion, BAFSA held a Latvian movie night with guest speaker Sarah Fogleman, Project and Programming Coordinator for the Russian Studies Workshop and Latvian enthusiast here at IU. BAFSA benefits from the expertise and passion of regional specialists at IU, which we are grateful for.
Although BAFSA has been centered on more formal cultural events this past year in honor of the centennials, we will be holding a few more relaxed events during the remainder of the academic year. We aim at reaching a wider audience among the student body these coming months with events that everyone can take a part in, with no previous knowledge of Finland and the Baltic states required.
To meet this goal, our next event will be Finnish Cultural Night on December 4, which also roughly coincides with Finland’s 101st anniversary. It will be a great chance to socialize, take part in a fun cultural event, enjoy some Finnish snacks, and learn something new about Finland and its language. The fun event in question will, of course, be karaoke, a popular Finnish pastime. To kick off the event and inspire new participants to join in, the newly reassembled BAFSA Choir will be performing the first few songs of the evening. Led by Jukka Isomaa, this year’s Fulbright Language Teaching Assistant for Department of Central Eurasian Studies’ Finnish program, the BAFSA Choir has picked out a good mix of Finnish karaoke classics and more recent songs. Choir practice is already underway and going smoothly. Finnish songs are fun to sing so we expect the choir members will not be the only ones singing. And if you are not a good singer, don’t worry — I’m far from the best singer but that hasn’t stopped me from joining the BAFSA Choir!
BAFSA will continue with at least two more events during the spring semester: Lithuanian Independence Day closely followed by Estonian Independence Day. In late February 2019, Estonia will also be marking another year in its centennial celebrations, which do not end until February 2020. While plans are still in the works, our next Estonian celebration is certain to be exciting. Further events, such as a film series, may be offered next semester, depending on student interest.
Be sure to join us in the coming months!
For more information, please contact BAFSA President Quentin Swaryczewski.