[The Hieno! Suomi 100 series] Inspirations from President Tarja Halonen.

Finnish People, Finnish Politics, Official Finland 100 Series Endorsed by Prime Minister's Office

Today, as part of The Hieno! “What is Finnish-ness” series celebrating Suomi 100 in 2017, we have the huge privilege of featuring President Tarja Halonen.

We are especially thankful that President Halonen and her team made precious time from her busy schedule to do this interview with us! 🙂

Tarja Halonen: The First Female President of Finland.

President Tarja Halonen served two terms as the president of Finland from 2000-2012. A vocal champion of social equality and minority rights, she is a tremendous inspiration and role model to many female leaders worldwide.

In 2009, Forbes named President Halonen as one of the top 100 most powerful women in the world.

Aside to her political career, President Halonen served extensively in trade unions and various non-governmental organisations. She also chaired the main Finnish gay rights organisation SETA from 1980-1981 and was an early proponent of gay rights.

An interesting fun-fact for our Singaporean readers: President Halonen made significant contributions towards the excellent diplomatic ties between Singapore and Finland.

In February 2008, President Halonen visited Singapore with high-level Finnish business and state delegations, 13 years after any Finnish president went to Singapore on a state visit.

In October 2010, President Halonen extended a state invitation to our Singaporean President Nathan, where many fruitful discussions were made and concluded. The 2010 presidential state visit to Finland was a clear affirmation of the start of many stronger bilateral collaborations and goodwill between the two nations.

The 3 things President Tarja Halonen considers as “Finnish”.

Firstly, President Tarja Halonen regards the sauna as “Finnish”, affectionately saying that the sauna is “very dear to us.”

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Next, she felt that the concept of “sisu” is also particularly Finnish, for it is “the spirit in which we raise our kids.”

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Last but not least, she considers the northern nature to be particularly Finnish, too.

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The 3 things about Finland that President Halonen is particularly appreciative of.

Equality, education and solidarity are three things that President Halonen hold particularly close to heart when it comes to Finland.

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President Halonen once made a speech in 2000 at the opening of the Women of Learning exhibition in Helsinki which highlighted these three values.

We present the following extract from that speech:

“We are a model country where gender equality is concerned…Under-representation of women and other inequality among researchers is a problem that will not solve itself as women acquire competence….The Finland of the 21st century can thrive only if women of learning – in common with their male counterparts – are guaranteed the opportunity to use their creative potential to the full.”

In the book “Te naiset, te naiset: Sitaatteja vain naisilta” (2006) by Laine Jarkko and Jung Irmeli, President Halonen also mentioned that–

Naisille annetaan helposti vaikeimmat tehtävät”;

which translates to:

“Women receive easily the most difficult assignments.”

As a distinguished lady who served two terms as the President of Finland, President Halonen truly walks the talk!

The one birthday wish President Halonen has for Finland 100.

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For Finland 100 in 2017, President Halonen wishes that:

“Finland would be strong in implementing and promoting sustainable development both at home and internationally.”

Don’t we all love President Halonen already for her big hearted-ness? ♡ ♡ ♡ 

Some personal reflections.

I first met President Halonen at an UN-Economic conference in 2014, and will always remember how approachable and knowledgable she is.

President Halonen really has no airs at all and is generous in sharing her wisdom and experiences with the audience. We even took this picture where she locked her arms into mine! :DDD /fangirls

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Foreigners who have met President Halonen spoke especially fondly of her. I personally don’t think that “warm” is a word you will use to describe many presidents or ambassadors in the world.

Lilian Neo, the chair of the Singaporean Association in Finland for instance, once told me that she is particularly inspired by how sincere and modest President Halonen is.

It’s truly a great privilege to have President Halonen on our series and we are very grateful. We hoped you have enjoyed this feature!~♡

Credits| Feature photo: Tarja Halonen. / Other photos: Unsplash.

Why Is The Vienna Boys Choir So Popular Globally? Interview With Iris Koh

Misc, Singapore
iris koh

Today, we have the huge privilege of catching up with Iris Koh, an accomplished pianist, music director, choral conductor, vocal coach and composer. Iris has worked extensively with the local and international schools in Singapore with experiences in choral, classroom, piano and voice methodologies.

In this feature, Iris shares with us about what she has been up to recently. Enjoy the feature!

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WW: Thank you for your time today Iris! Can you tell us a bit more about yourself and SVBC?

Iris Koh: Currently I am the organizer for SVBC, which stands for the See, Sing and Study with the Vienna Boys Choir.

The Vienna Boys Choir will be here for one whole week, and there will be very exciting events during the one whole week. These events include training, workshops, and concerts for people ranging from music lovers, parents, kids, singers to choral conductors.

We are really excited and looking forward to the two concerts—one at the Victoria Concert Hall and the other at the Esplanade.

iris koh

WW: So Iris, can you tell us a bit more in detail about what the public can look forward to in SVBC?

Iris Koh: So for 11th and 12th we are going to be conducting training at the Arts House, and the training is basically for conductors and teachers who like to know more about how to improve their skills as conductors. And of course, on how to work with growing voices, especially the voices of boys.

There is also the opportunity to see Professor Gerald Wirth in action, with the Vienna Boys Choir on stage. Professor Gerald Wirth is actually the artistic director and the president of the Vienna Boys Choir and he is personally coming down to share about the 500 year-old system that the choir is using to train their singers.

On the 13th of January, we are having an event at the Grand Capthorne Hotel, which is our official hotel sponsor. There will be a workshop for the parent and child, and the topic is how to identify, develop and encourage musical talents in your child.

 

WW: Wow, that is truly a workshop that many parents would be interested in!

Iris Koh: YES! This is going to be great because a lot of parents would want to know if my child is talented in music. In the modern world we live in, many people have so many things to do and distractions. So if your child has a special musical quality it is important to spot it and then to help the child to develop this talent. I truly believe that if a child is doing something he is good at, this would increase his confidence and he can do better as well.

So there will be this segment. And maybe the Vienna Boys Choir may sing a few songs at the event. There will also be an opportunity for the guests to mingle with the boys at the Junior Buffet Lunch.

It’s going to be an exciting event, and we are really looking forward to it!

At night on 13th January, the Vienna Boys Choir will be performing at the Victoria Concert Hall. Followed by the Grand Finale Concert on the 15th January, which will be with the Kids’ Philharmonic Orchestra. There will also be three songs performed by the local choir with the Vienna Boys Choir.

 

WW: Wow the event sure sounds exciting and we’re looking forward to it! I’ll like to go back to the point on how parents can spot and develop musical talents in their children.

Would you say Singapore as a society is conducive to develop a person’s musical talents in?

Iris Koh: Well I would definitely say that Singapore is one of the world’s most affluent countries. Many parents spend a lot of time and money on the music education of their children.You know, we have gorgeous concert halls, established music schools and a lot of high calibre musicians in Singapore that people can learn music from.

So even though we are a small population, we are affluent and we can afford high-quality music education and learning.

 

WW: So do you think Singapore will eventually be a thriving hub for music appreciation, learning and education?

Iris Koh: Well, you know it has been a long-standing joke that Singapore wants to be a hub for everything. And we all know that much as we like to be, we simply can’t. While I must say that the government has spent a lot of money and resources into arts and music education, some things just can’t be rushed.

If we look at Vienna, it didn’t become the “hub” for Western Music overnight. It took many many generations of world class musicians, support from the royal family in those days and continuous support from the government today to continue their long tradition in Music, which I believe they know sets them apart.

Unfortunately culture is not built immediately and today we live in such a fast-paced society that demands things in an instance. It takes time perhaps even centuries to even find our own voice and identity and we are still a very young nation.

I think this question also pre-supposes that the government wants Singapore to be a thriving hub for Music appreciation learning and education and unfortunately I’m not in the loop for this.

If I look at the steps we have made in the past 20 years since I came back from Australia in my music studies, back in those days, we didn’t even have a music conservatorium. The biggest concert hall back then, the Victoria Concert Hall. Now we have Yong Siew Toh, The Esplanade, Star Theatre and so many other performing arts venues and I believe the Esplanade and the concert halls, our SSO etc are also doing a good job to bring Music closer to the people.

It is a continuous work in progress although I feel a bit jealous that our literary arts scene seem to be more thriving than the musical scene here. But of course everything takes time and when a particular arts discipline does well, I like to think that it will pull along the others.

 

WW: So personally, what are you looking most forward to in the SVBC week?

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Iris Koh: I’m actually really, really looking forward to the training that Professor Gerald Wirth is going to give to all the conductors and the music teachers, because I think it is a very rare kind of training.

It is not easy for us to invite Professor Gerald Wirth to come down to Singapore for so many day, and it is his first time in Singapore specially to conduct this training. He has actually been in the Vienna Boys Choir before as a child in the 1970s and he has performed at the Victoria Concert Hall as a child.

Professor Gerald Wirth has an international travel schedule and it really wasn’t easy to organise this training session. I’m not even sure if we will be doing this training session in the near future, so I strongly encourage all music teachers and conductors not to “wait and see”. Instead of flying to Vienna, we are flying Vienna to you for this training of a lifetime. There are master-classes for choirs, and even hands-on opportunities to conduct the Vienna Boys Choir during the workshops, so don’t miss this!

 

WW: I have a curious question—Let’s say a boy were to be in the Vienna Boys Choir and his voice breaks. What is going to happen to him then?

Iris Koh: Well, the choir is made up of Soprano and Alto voices. When a boy’s voice breaks, he will no longer be able to sing one of the parts and will have to step down from the choir.

There is however a mixed choir (SATB) that the boys can join, which is part of the co-ed school that the Vienna Boys Choir is actually part of. This helps them to make the transition and still keep their passion in music and singing alive.

 

WW: Just to clarify, are all the boys in the Vienna Boys Choir Austrian?

Iris Koh: No, they are actually from all parts of the world. Perhaps a majority from German speaking countries or from Europe. But there are some boys from Asian countries—in the past there was even a pair of twins from Singapore. There are also boys from Japan, Korea, Hong Kong to name a few.

 

WW: Do you personally feel that Vienna Boys Choir contributes to this abstract concept of the “soul of Singapore”?

Iris Koh: This is a complex question. I would say that the “soul of Singapore” in relation to music is a very deep subject.

We are after all a mish-mash of everything, which is why I was really interested in Singlish discourse, because I think that is part of our identity as a country. And I think Dick Lee is one of the few composers who included Singlish in his songs. And there was a period of time when the government didn’t accept his work and what he was doing. Yet he became very popular in Japan with his work “Chinaman”.

I went to the 60th birthday concert by Dick Lee where he shared about his journey as a musician. So I would look to him as one of the most respected figures in Singaporean music and his songs express our identity as Singaporeans to a very large extent. While SVBC week is about bring Vienna Boys Choir to us, it is also about Singaporean choirs sharing our music with the boys. And one of the songs that we will be sharing with them is Dick Lee’s Home, which will see our Singaporean Choirs on stage with the Kids Philharmonic orchestra singing this song.

So please look forward to that!

 

WW: Can you tell us one thing about the Vienna Boys Choir that most people think they know, but actually do not know?

Iris Koh: Most people think that there is only one choir, but there are actually four choirs in the Vienna Boys Choir.

The four choirs are named after famous composers namely Haydn, Mozart, Schubert, and Bruckner. And each group is made up of about 25 boys.

So each year, a different group goes to a different country. So by the end of four years, these boys would have travelled at least half the world. So being part of the Vienna Boys Choir is a very international and educational experience that you cannot find anywhere else in the world. And you get to sing in the best concert halls globally.

So if your child has a strong interest in music and he wants to be part of this educational experience, this is an invaluable experience.

 

WW: Do you personally feel that you’re making a difference in the way music education is done in Singapore via Vienna Boys Choir?

Iris Koh: Yes, definitely. It is a huge privilege for me to bring this world famous choir to Singapore. In terms of classical music and choral music, I would say they are one of the most famous groups there is in the world. Organising the SVBC week in Singapore has made me realise that our educators value classical music and they are hungry for the opportunity to learn.

I had the opportunity to visit the school where the Vienna Boys Choir is in. It was an old palace. They have a whole system of choral management that is beyond us, from their own costume department to their own PR team etc. Everything is professional and I have learnt so much in the process and I hope that we can really learn from them how to break new grounds with our choirs. I mean if something has been running for 500 years, I would love to know what they have been doing to not only keep traditions alive, but innovate to ensure they are not outdated / become irrelevant.

 

WW: On a parting note, do you have anything else to add?

Iris Koh: Well, I’m very excited and I would like to take this opportunity to thank the many people behind the scenes who are helping and supporting this event. Our partners, the Austrian Embassy, our sponsors, volunteers, conductors who are training the choirs to prepare for the concert and my team who are working very hard to make this event possible.

 

WW: Thank you for your time today, Iris!

Iris Koh: Thank you for having me on The Hieno!

What is Self-Esteem and Authenticity? Interview with Angelica Ang

Singapore
angelica ang

Today we have the huge privilege of having Angelica Ang with us!~

Angelica Ang is a coach at Stardom, a speaker and a talk show host. Today, we have the huge privilege of having her at The Hieno as she speaks to us more about what she thinks about self-worth, self-esteem and authenticity.

You may follow Angelica at her personal or professional websites, Youtube, LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram.

Enjoy the feature! ^^

Wan Wei: Hello Angelica, thank you for your time today! How would you personally define “self-esteem” and “authenticity” respectively?

Angelia Ang: I would personally define “self-esteem” as feeling a sense of worthlessness.

  • “I don’t stand out, I’m just not captivating enough.”
  • “She impresses everyone she meets. She’s just got that X-factor I don’t.”

You and I have thought like that. Perhaps you’re a career professional or business owner who meets people a lot—at events, tradeshows and conferences and with trouble working a room —and you’re unhappy how you present yourself to them.

It might be true that better-looking and more charming people earn more, impress the right people more easily and generally advance faster. Do they have something we don’t?

  • “Can I really learn to be confident in front of a crowd?”

Growing up, I was shy and hated myself—the way I looked and behaved around others. Many people were quick to insult me and put me down, and over time I actually came to agree with them. I became perfectionistic, working myself to the bone to live up to the standards they set… not realizing that I never would.

Authenticity helps you become A Better Entrepreneur and be A Better Person

Authentic voice reflects through your work and action. In Johari Window, “The Undiscovered Self”, every single steps you take will develop this skills to discover your own voice, how entrepreneurs and individuals can be more authentic and more.

We live in a cynical age, and people might be cautious about your motive, or looking at the angle behind any communication. If you want to break through this noise, you have to show that you are genuinely in your message and actions, and that you truly show care and compassion toward people.

 

Wan Wei: What does it mean to be “yourself” and how does it relate to self-esteem? Is it possible to “be yourself” and still have a low self-esteem?

Angelia Ang: Low self-esteem is a negative evaluation of oneself which usually occurs when some past circumstance we encountered touches on our sensitivities.

If you have low self-esteem, you may feel:

  • Uncomfortable and shy
  • Uncertain of your own abilities
  • A sense of worthlessness or lost
  • Unable to enjoy and relax in situations that you’d like to
  • Unable to get a sense of direction in life
  • Failing to make your voice heard at pivotal moments

Having low self-esteem can affect your mood and you may feel depressed, low, guilty, and you might even try to prove your worth to others. Further, you may avoid situations that could cause anxiety.

High Self-esteem, on the other hand, describe the way that you feel regardless of your looks and your achievements. The pride, self-respect, confidence that you radiant with, and you are comfortable in your own skin.

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.” ― Henry Ford

Your confidence level and the belief can be shown through your achievement. If you follow your heart (your calling), and going into “The Johari Window – The Undiscovered Self”, and discover your untagged talents.

On the way to your success, there will always be naysayers, doubters, and energy vampires, and even your own negative thoughts (low self-esteem). Eliminate this thoughts and keep asking yourself “WHY” – Why I should do this? Why I must make this first step? Why I should own this success?

And someday, you will be answering this:

‘You always seem to always get _______, make such great _____ that the rest of us could only wish for?’ How did you do this? _________

 

Wan Wei: What are the 3 practical baby-steps then that any person can do to build self-esteem?

Angelica Ang:

  • Childlike Sense of Wonder

Be courageous, adventurous and develop a sense of curiosity.

When we were young, adults teach us to be careful. Without noticing it, we start to be very cautious that we might make terribly mistakes. This curiosity diminished from our nature as we grow up. Unless we can treat life as a great adventure, to learn and relearn. Be courageous to live a life well lived.

  • Identify cause of triggers

“I don’t like the way I look.”

Don’t focus on the beauty you see in advertisement, but instead, to the beauty you see in the real-life people you admire.

  • Confidence building tips

 Try to remove negativity from your life

If you are constantly doubting yourself, you might have to evaluate your inner circle of friends and family. Even a temporary break from a person can offer a real positive step towards confidence building.

  • Change your body language

You can slowly start confidence building by changing your body language. This starts with your posture, eye contact and smiling. Smiling will make others more comfortable around you, and make you feel radiant too.

In Stardom Workshop, I coach my clients (business owners, entrepreneurs and career professional) how to be the STAR and 3P Frameworks.

No, I didn’t coach them to be celebrities. But STAR on their own field, based on Presence – move, speak and eliminating a captivating zeal, so they will be always in control of the situation.

Offline, when they do stage and/or business presentation, attend networking setting and social events. And Online, how to the captivate person on social media. How to be better of yourself than yesterday, unleashing the stylish, magnetic person I know lies within everyone, whenever you have an introvert or extrovert personality.

 

Wan Wei: What are the 3 signs anyone can use to double-check from time to time that he or she is true to himself/herself?

Angelica Ang: We associate genuineness with appealing traits, such as strength of character and emotional resilience—and being true to yourself takes Tenacity, Bravery and Self-confidence.

  1. Genuine people speak their mind.

They take Quiet Time to figure out their thoughts and perspectives about things, and they are generously sharing and presenting their ideas and thought-out opinions.

  1. Genuine people respond to internal expectations.

They spend time exploring their own beliefs, and always improve their standards, and expectations. Hence, always have the learners’ attitudes, toward learn and relearn.

2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV) – For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

  1. Genuine people bounce back from every failure.

Genuine people are not threatened by the idea of failing nor keeping their fear zone. In fact, they view failure as an integral part of their journey, a source of learning, and an enriching experience from which they can grow.

Are you continually being true to yourself? Life is too short to live behind a life unlived.

“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.” – E.E. Cummings

 

Wan Wei: What is the meaning of “the best version of yourself”? Why must we be the “best” version of ourselves? How many bests can we have?

Angelica Ang: Technology, example mobile gadgets subtle change on the surface including improve and continue to upgrade on the version.

As Humans, we must adjust and adapt to change, learn and relearn, keep on improving and upgrading to bring out the “BEST VERSION of ourselves”.

  1. Learn to listen to yourself.

Listen to your inner voice. Learn to have quiet times, and remove Mobile and IT gadgets, and fully get intoned with your inner self. We must learn to be still without distractions.

Develop the Behaviors that will make you Unstoppable.

Keep asking yourself this Questions – “Why I should do this? Have I done my Best? How do I improve on this situation? What shall I do differently? Why I must make this first step? Why I should own this success?

  1. Learn to be good to yourself.

“The Johari Window – The Undiscovered Self”. Learn to discover your untagged talents. Tune into what you like and what you can do best. Attend workshop / seminar, learn a new language, start drawing or take up photography. Do it now. Learn and be good to yourself.

  1. Don’t hold back your grief.

Be genuine with your feeling. Learn to face this grief. You can make better choices when you are not afraid of losing or failing and know that you can get through whatever happens.

Are you being your “BEST VERSION of yourself”? Be still and continually ask yourself.

We hope you have enjoyed the interview today! You may follow Angelica at her personal or professional websites, Youtube, LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram. Angelica also has a special gift for you–click here!

Autumn Photoshoot With Jenni Aho Photography

Finland Wedding, Things to do in Helsinki
soh wan wei

Last week we had an Finnish autumn photography session with Jenni Aho (Of Jenni Aho Photography) and it was so much fun! I’m writing this post today to brides who sometimes end up on this blog after googling “pre-wedding photography in Finland“, so I thought it might be a good idea to show you what sort of photographs we got.

Autumn is a beautiful season and I’m so happy that we got to do this photoshoot before I fly back to Singapore later!~ 🙂

Jenni Aho is a Finnish photographer with over 10+ years of experience behind the camera. Do check out her instagram @jenniahophotography for her portfolio– and she does commissions/ professional photoshoots as well. Her speciality is in portrait photography in nature–so IF you are looking for photos to put for your wedding invitations, Jenni is the person to go to =)

Oh she also does boudoir photography. So awesome yeah!

Without further ado here are the photographs!

 

 

What do you think? These are so lovely photographs, right? ^^

Do follow Jenni on facebook too for more updates!