A land of over 187,000 lakes and nightless summers that first became an independent republic in 1919 will be home to a Texas A&M International University administrator for the month of May.
Viky Garcia, director of career services at A&M International, will travel to Finland as part of a Rotary International exchange program.
She and Abigail Delgado, KLDO television reporter, will be joined by former Laredoan Margarita Gonzalez, marketing communications manager for the Brownsville Public Utilities Board.
Garcia said she is looking forward to the travel and study opportunity.
"It's a fascinating opportunity to experience another culture and country. Naturally, I'm particularly intrigued by higher education in Finland and by my interest in how universities approach student services and career services," Garcia said.
Garcia said she has been preparing for her journey by researching Finland, its culture and its way of life. The group will visit Helsinki, home to 1 million Finns, and the southeastern Finland cities of Lappeenranta, Imatra, and Joensuu.
"It's the seventh largest European country with 187,888 lakes, 5,100 rapids and 179,584 islands. Only 8% of the land is cultivated. Finland separated from Sweden in 1809 and didn't became a republic of it's own until 1919. The national language is Finnish, but English is widely spoken. They've posted tremendous gains in technology and are apparently very connected in terms of Internet and cell phone usage," she noted.
Garcia said she is especially interested in the Finn's cultural heritage and their fierce defense of same.
"It's a small but prosperous country of five million people with a rich cultural heritage. The Finns are among the world's top readers, and have enriched the world with great composers like Sibelius and great architects like Aalto...and a woman president. In the late 19th century, they rediscovered their ancient poetry which has created a national literature and theater focus,"she said.
While Garcia will be learning a great deal about the Finns, she is looking forward to an opportunity to share South Texas with her hosts.
"We've put together a slide show that will provide a glimpse of our South Texas culture and daily life. We want them to know about how we live our lives, and how South Texas would be a fascinating place for them to visit. My hope is that they will see that despite our differences, we do share universal values of home, family, and education," she said.
"I and my fellow team members are very appreciative of the opportunities Rotary clubs in South Texas are making possible for team members,"she concluded.
Other members of Garcia's team will be from Victoria, Edinburg, and Brownsville.
Team members were selected after application and interview by Rotary members of District 5930. A similar group of visitors from Finland is scheduled to come to Laredo in April.
For additional information, please contact Garcia at A&M International, 326.2260 or visit her in offices located in the Sue and Radcliffe Killam Library, room 157.
Journalists who need additional information or help with media requests and interviews should contact the Office of Public Affairs and Information Services at firstname.lastname@example.org