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Helsinki was Site of 'Muncie Memories' Gathering

Helsinki gathering
Helsinki gathering participants included; (Back row L-R) Susanna Vasara, Dr. Jouko Kauranne, Pekka Martela; (Front row L-R) Matti Inkeroinen, Anne Sallyla, Amy Venderly, Ann Wennstrom, Mrs. Pekka Martela.

Finland's charming capital city Helsinki was the site recently of a first-ever "Muncie Memories" gathering of former students and scholars at Burris and Ball State University.

Participants ranged from mid-1950s visiting scholar to a 2006 graduate. Dr. Jouko Kauranne spent several months at Ball State in 1954 as part of U.S. State Department-funded study program for international teachers. A published author and active skier, Dr. Kauranne was the innovative head of the Helsinki City Schools until his retirement. He returned to Muncie in the early 1990s to give lectures at Teachers College on the Finnish educational system. The 2006 graduate, Ft. Wayne native Amy Venderley, was in Helsinki taking part in an internship in fashion design.

Nokia marketing executive Susanna Vasara was an ISEP student in 1995-96 at Ball State. Susanna helped find current addresses for many of the reunion's participants. Public relations specialist Anne Sallyla was also an ISEP student at BSU in the mid 1980s. With encouragement from her mother, Anne's daughter is a recent study abroad participant in the U.S. Matti Inkeroinen came to BSU as an ISEP participant in the mid 1990s, and has served with U.N. Peace Keeping forces in former Yugloslavia and is now a postal service administrator.

Two former Burris students gave the gathering a special flavor. Ann Wennstrom, now working for the national radio system, came to Muncie on a grant sponsored by Rotary. She hopes to make a return visit to see her host families in the next few years, hopefully with her husband and children. Pekka Martela came to Muncie through contact with BSU administrator Beck Hannaford (MA'90) who lived with Martela's family as an exchange student. Pekka attended a Burris reunion in 2005, reestablishing ties to his many friends in Muncie. His family firm designs space use and world-class furniture for offices and institutions.

Event organizer and International Advancement director Dr. Martin Limbird hosted the Muncie Memories gathering at the Sokos Vaakuna Hotel.  "Our alumni and friends in Finland certainly have wonderful recollections of their Muncie experiences, said Limbird.

Susanna Vasara and Martin Limbird are pictured in front of a scupture honoring the great Finnish composer Jan Sibelius
Susanna Vasara and Martin Limbird are pictured in front of a sculpture honoring the great Finnish composer Jean Sibelius.
Dr. Jouko Kauranne stands in front of his portrait at the Helsinki City Education Department
Dr. Jouko Kauranne stands in front of his portrait at the Helsinki City Education Department.
Pekka Martela shows Mary Catherine Limbird his firm's office design systems.
Pekka Martela shows Mary Catherine Limbird his firm's office design systems.