Tea and Conversation on Cultural Diplomacy with the First Lady of Finland, Mrs. Jenni Haukio

Meridian President and CEO, Ambassador Stuart Holliday and guests join Mrs. Haukio for a group photo. Photo by Jenni Lehman.
Meridian President and CEO, Ambassador Stuart Holliday and guests join Mrs. Haukio for a group photo. Photo by Jenny Lehman.

On September 15, 2017, Meridian hosted an intimate tea and discussion to honor and welcome the First Lady of Finland, Mrs. Jenni Haukio. The conversation covered a wide range of topics, including the role of the arts in international relations and Mrs. Haukio’s world-renowned literacy and children’s rights campaign.

The event brought together a distinguished group of leaders across sectors in Washington, including Barbara Ascher, Tracy Bernstein, Megan Beyer, Janet Blanchard, Meryl Chertoff, Didi Cutler, Heather Florance, The Honorable Laurie Fulton, Michele Manatt, Gwen Holliday, The Honorable Anita McBride, The Honorable Capricia Marshall and Lee Satterfield.

The program began with a discussion on the integral role that art plays in bridging cultural divides. As part of Meridian’s mission to promote cultural understanding, collaboration and build valuable relationships between nation states and people, the Meridian Center for Cultural Diplomacy creates exhibitions, cultural exchanges and other programming. An award-winning poet, Mrs. Haukio expressed her shared belief in the unifying power of the arts, stating, “Art is our common humanity and how we can understand one another.”

Mrs. Haukio’s passion for the arts and social impact led to a conversation about the global literacy campaign, Tiny Stories. She conceptualized and implemented the campaign for UNICEF in 2016, garnering the support of approximately 270 renowned novelists, playwrights and authors worldwide.

The event culminated in a special visit by Christina Cole, a senior at McKinley Tech High School in Washington, DC. In honor of Mrs. Haukio’s background as a poet and creative writer, Ms. Cole recited Maya Angelou’s poem “Human Family,” whose powerful message promotes intercultural understanding by emphasizing what is shared between people.

Project summary

Tea and Conversation on Cultural Diplomacy with the First Lady of Finland, Mrs. Jenni Haukio
Number of Attendees: 18
Regions: Europe and Eurasia
Countries: Finland
Impact Areas: Cultural Diplomacy
Program Areas: Forums