Anders Adlercreutz, New Finland Education Minister Supports Student Exchange
Anders Adlercreutz
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Finland’s new Minister of Education is a staunch advocate for international education, drawing from his transformative experiences as an exchange student and later as a host family.

In a cabinet shuffle on July 5, Anders Adlercreutz of the Swedish People’s Party was appointed Minister of Education under Prime Minister Petteri Orpo, leader of the National Coalition Party. An alumnus of AFS Finland, Adlercreutz studied abroad in Portugal in 1987 and has since hosted international students on their exchange journeys to Finland.

Earlier this year, in a video and interview posted by AFS, Adlercreutz, who previously served as Minister for European Affairs and Ownership Steering, recounted his move from Finland to Portugal for his studies and shared how this experience impacted his life and career trajectory, including the value of learning a foreign language.

“The Portuguese language opened doors to Latin-speaking countries, and while language skills might be seen as a mere functional benefit, my experience is that it is so much more than that,” said Adlercreutz. “Speaking another person’s language shows that you care. It shows a desire to get to know another person and their background. I see this every day in my work.”

Adlercreutz emphasized that an exchange year is “not a holiday,” highlighting some challenges faced by students pursuing educational experiences abroad. “A holiday is a break from everyday life, whereas an exchange student year is everyday life—full of mundane chores, just life as it is. Sure, it is full of exciting experiences but also boredom and homesickness. Above all, it’s about learning about yourself.

“Understanding diversity and internationalism requires stepping outside of your comfort zone,” continued Adlercreutz. “It also requires tolerating uncertainty. Internationalism is about embracing difference and, more to the point, the ability to see value in difference—something we need now more than ever.”

Adlercreutz’s year in Portugal “changed everything” for him. It was also how he met his wife, who was abroad with AFS at the same time; they later met at an AFS-organized meeting.

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