Tampere Ambassador: Jaanika Kingumets

Where are you from?

I was born in a small Northern Estonian village, I spent my student years in Tartu and then moved to Finland for a study exchange. Big part of my heart is also in an Estonian-Russian cross-border town Narva where I spent many days in my childhood and later did an ethnographic research for my doctoral research.

What would you like to tell about yourself?

My life has been connected to Tampere for over 13 years already. I speak the language fluently and as I also look pretty much Finnish. I am thus one of those foreigners in Tampere who are not recognised immediately as foreign. Yet in our family we speak three languages, Estonian, Spanish and English (plus Finnish outside our home) and our everyday life is a criss-cross of different cultures. I am a social, funny and empathetic person to whom justice and equal opportunities are very important. I keep believing in a better, more humane world and I want to do my best to make that happen. I don’t think things will happen by themselves or someone else should do them. If we want changes, we ourselves need to do the steps to initiate and lead the change. I am also very curious about the world, celebrating its diversity and having a life-time learner attitude. So no mountain is too high and no sea too deep for me – I always climb up to the sky and dive in, explore, and move forward a bit more experienced and wiser.

What makes Tampere special for you?

The town has enabled me to study and work at the same time, to pursue my PhD degree, easy access to nature that is very important to me, and it provides a secure and caring environment where I want my kids to be raised up. I came to study in Tampere, then found a job, a partner, studied and worked more, then got my two kids. Meanwhile the life has taken me also to Turku in Finland, Spain, Canada, Australia and back to Estonia, but I always felt the urge to come back to Tampere. I guess I stayed in this town because it is a perfect place for me to live the life I have wanted to live. Tampere is smart, practical, engaged with the nature, gives you enough space for creativity and time for daydreaming.

Tell about your professional activities?

I am an anthropologist by education. I have spent many years doing research and pursuing a PhD degree. But I have also versatile work experience in many different fields, including (digital) marketing and communication, teaching, NGO work, translation, tourism and ICT. I currently work on converting my skills and experience as an academic anthropologist to business needs (I am studying service and business design).

What is your involvement in international activities?

The circles I have belonged to since the very beginning of moving to Tampere have been very international. As a very social and curious person, I have found the international environments always very enjoyable, because that gives an opportunity to get to know different viewpoints and widen one’s world every day. Because of working mostly in multicultural and international work environments and I living abroad in several foreign countries, I have my social networks extending across continents. Also my family is multicultural, so I am always surrounded by different cultures and have learnt how to negotiate about cultural issues. But when I got my own kids, I also re-estimated the role of my own culture. I am proud of my origin, culture and language and I want to pass that to my kids, too. So in recent years I have been very involved in local Estonian networks and we even established our own association which I have been leading since the beginning.

What is your mission as a Tampere Ambassador?

I believe in the future of Finnish-Estonian common economic area and I want to do my best to help that to become a reality sooner than later. Cultural associations are doing a good job and the cooperation on state level is getting more and more active, but many activities are still only focussing on Tallinn-Helsinki axel. Tampere has a lot to offer to Estonian businesses and Estonia could be much more visible in Tampere, too. I would like to, both personally and as a chair of the board of the Pirkanmaan Tuglas-seura (Estonian cultural organisation in Pirkanmaa), contribute in facilitating Finnish-Estonian cooperation in Tampere no matter whether it concerns technology, business, arts, culture or anything else.

What potential do you see for Tampere in the future?

One thing was mentioned already – Tampere is a key player in regional development. And in my opinion, close regional cooperation and joint marketing are also crucial for the business success in global markets. Recently, I have seen many attempts in Tampere to involve the citizens better in having a say what kind of city they want to see in the future, and that makes me very glad. Future Tampere should be known for three key words: innovative, inspiring, involving.