Jan-Henrik Merihonka who?
I was delivered to this world at Jämsä hospital in the early 1970s. After high school graduation I completed BBA (Bachelor of Business Administration) degree at Helsinki School of Economics and went on to work in product development of medical devices such as mammography X-ray units, mobile X-ray units and patient monitoring devices. Working for global company (Instrumentarium/GE Healthcare) and living in the United States (Massachusetts, Indiana) as well as in Russia has been a great learning experience that I can draw upon each day.
I'm 46 years, married and a father to an eager LEGO® brick constructor.
My experiences with the United States started as an exchange student at Attleboro High School in Massachusetts. Few years later I kept traveling between the countries, working in Massachusetts and studying at Indiana University (IU) in Bloomington, IN. Most of the time I stayed with my former exchange student families that have provided me a great insight on ordinary American family life, having hamburger, chips and Pepsi for supper and so on. In Indiana life was a bit different than what an average tourist faces in the US. I had to straighten out errors in phone and electricity bills as well as send checks for utility and other payments. It was something new.
One cannot live in the United States without going to the baseball matches. Most often we would cheer up for Boston Red Sox, but sometimes we went to watch Pawtucket Red Sox as well. The American football, though, is something I just cannot figure out the big thing on it, but I leave that to others who can.
Dynamism of the American society made an impression on me. People can be happy about someone else's success and not play it down immediately. Also, if someone ends up in bankruptcy, it is not a cast mark for the rest of the life, but more like a proof of having earnestly tried to do something. One can start up again. In addition to that, American kids are brought up with lots of encouragement and supportive words. No wonder they will develop a strong self-esteem that helps them to push through the hardships. I wish to see something like this in Finland. Benevolent life with capital L.
After returning to Finland, I continued with studies of Russian language and received an internship at St. Petersburg, Russia office of FINNVERA (KERA at that time), under direction of legendary specialist on Finnish-Russian trade, Mr. Hannu Linnainmaa. It was intriguing to participate in numerous meetings in Russian language as well as run KERA errands in the city. In the evenings I sipped tea with my landlady babushka and learned much about Russian language, history and society through her recollections of the past and meeting with her family members. While traveling around the St. Petersburg, Leningradsky Oblast and Republic of Carelia, I got used to bumpy roads, clacking doors at stores and huge pools on streets due to frozen sewers. I have never before nor after been to ballet or opera so often as I did my during my stay in Russia. When rouble crisis of 1998 began to cast gloomy shadow on job prospects, I opted to work in Finland for the time being.
Muita tekstejä (Other texts) -section contains a story about my trip to former Finnish city of Käkisalmi, current Priozersk by the Lake Ladoga. Sorry the story is in Finnish, you can try pasting the text in Google Translator.
Moving to medical technology
I started work as a Technical Writer for mammography X-ray products of Instrumentarium Imaging. In addition to usual creation of documentation in American English, the position involved application trainings, visiting clients and trade shows on both sides of the Atlantic. I learned to read X-ray images and understand how field of medical technology operates. A grand scale of change took place when GE acquired Instrumentarium and we became part of GE Healthcare. Product development with colleagues around the globe provided me with an insight to global project work. Since GE, I have worked at Innokas Medical Engineering as a Technical Writer for a patient monitoring device. Right now I am heading for the 15th year in medical technology.
History has always been my pet project and a couple of years back I became intrigued by writing a story on Napoleon making the transition to the United States. The book was published under the title Operaatio Napoleon - Waterloosta Washingtoniin by Minerva Kustannus Oy, Helsinki. There will be a sequel to the book as well as a version in American English. Other literal projects include science fiction time travel story, an intense crime story and a fiction story involving clandestine services of a certain, yet unrevealed country.
While traveling, I think it is worthwhile and provides depth to have at least a fair level of understanding of the local language. My first language is Finnish. Other language skills are listed starting from the strongest: American English, Russian, Swedish, German, French and Spanish. Reading skills in Italian and Portuguese. Introductory classes in Greek and Hebrew. Future language goals: Turkish.
Impetus for my Russian studies was the fact that Russia will always be our huge neighbor. It surely would not hurt knowing the language that is spoken from Vyiborg to Vladivostok and used as a lingua franca in other countries. In early 2000s I went to a Christian Media Conference in Moscow with IRR-TV. I was nice to hear how speakers from various corners of Eastern Europe and the Baltic States all used Russian language to deliver their thoughts and messages among the conference participants.
Another interesting experience took place in Yerushalem where I was listening to an English-language speech that was interpreted into Hebrew through the microphone. A group of Russian speaking people were seated near me and I could observe the interpretation from Hebrew to Russian. I was surprised by a small number of changes in content during two consecutive interpretations. Proficient amateur interpreters.
During spare time I play 12-string guitar and electric guitar, a bit of piano. A real long-term dream is to be able to pick up violin and play Thaïs Meditation by Massenet.
I am a long-time Beatles and Buddy Holly aficionado. Among recent discoveries is an amazing Finnish acapella group called ClubFor5.
Humanitarian aid projects
During my stay in the capital city area, I came across with many wonderful people that invested their time and effort in collecting clothes and other items suitable for every day life for those in need abroad. The received items were sorted out and those in decent condition were packed for the shipment. Main part of the donations were shipped to Buryatya in railroad containers. The contents were handed over to those in need by local churches and cities. Examples include warm clothes so that children could attend school during cold winter months, wheel chairs to people with disabilities, skies to the school kids and so on. I helped out with border formalities and served as an interpreter in general. Sometimes we were delivering the aid items directly from the van as we traveled in the Carelia. My grand father was a native of Uusi Kirkko, current Poljany, who had to leave their home town after the WWII. Maybe that explains that why Carelia has been close to my heart.
Up until High School graduation here in Finland, I was quite far from spiritual values and did not even attend the Lutheran confirmation. I used to read works by various philosophers that seemed to have nice thoughts but the grand picture was still missing. At the time being I discarded Bible as being one book among the others. Then I experienced a spiritual renaissance and became a Christian and Scriptures of the Bible came close to me in a completely different manner than before. I no longer skimmed Bible "a bit of here and a bit of there" so as to ascertain my own apparent prejudices, but now I was actually eager to learn.
When one earnestly examines some Biblical topic, one can find foundations for guidelines that Bible teaches. Current trend in Western society intends to root out Christianity, but reading the news and observing the changes in the society makes one think that happiness and security have not been great by-products of the process of secularization. I consider myself a conservative who wants to retain Finland as a Christian country, pray for protection and guidance for our native country and to our politicians.
Note: modified translation by Jan-Henrik Merihonka from the Finnish original by Jan-Henrik Merihonka.