I’ve al­wa­ys been a be­lie­ver in ha­ving a con­nec­ti­on to yo­ur ho­me­town. Gro­wing up in Ma­ry­land, I spent a lot of time around the wa­ter, ate crabs (in eve­ry form ima­gi­nab­le), chee­red for the Ori­o­les and Ra­vens, and plen­ty of ot­her Ma­ry­lan­der things. In fact, you’ll al­wa­ys find Old Bay se­a­so­ning in my kitc­hen, even here in Fin­land. But now that I have mo­ved ac­ross the world, bought a hou­se, and star­ted a fa­mi­ly, I have been ref­lec­ting about how I have been con­nec­ting with Fin­land, and more spe­ci­fi­cal­ly, my new ho­me­town: Pori.

My first les­sons in how to be “Po­ri­lai­nen” came from my fat­her-in-law who was ex­ci­ted when he le­ar­ned that I was a fan of ice hoc­key. I quick­ly le­ar­ned that the Pori team is Äs­sät and star­ted lis­te­ning to ga­mes and even­tu­al­ly at­ten­ded one in-per­son, which was great. Now, I have se­ve­ral pie­ces of ap­pa­rel fe­a­tu­ring the team, inc­lu­ding a cus­tom jer­sey with BO­WEN on the back. True, the team do­esn’t al­wa­ys do too well, but as a Bal­ti­mo­re Ori­o­les fan, I know how to love a lo­sing team, haha. And of cour­se, I now have a he­alt­hy dis­dain for Rau­man Luk­ko, the Äs­sät ri­val. My brot­her-in-law int­ro­du­ced me to pe­sä­pal­lo and the Po­rin Pe­sä­kar­hut. And in 2019, I was de­ligh­ted to dis­co­ver an Ame­ri­can foot­ball team, the Pori Be­ars. They all have my love and sup­port as a Pori re­si­dent.

Af­ter li­ving in Pori for se­ve­ral months, I be­gan mee­ting a lot of new pe­op­le and ma­king friends. At first, most were im­mig­rants like me, but then I star­ted mee­ting more Fin­ns. Through these in­te­rac­ti­ons, I be­gan to pick up more and more about Pori and what ma­kes it such a won­der­ful place. And as I have so of­ten read ar­tic­les lis­ting the top pla­ces to vi­sit in Fin­land, Pori is ra­re­ly among the sug­ges­ti­ons, and I can’t re­al­ly un­ders­tand why.

Ear­lier in 2021, I got a call from a friend who told me that the city of Pori was loo­king for rak­kaus­lä­het­ti­lät (love am­bas­sa­dors). I de­ci­ded to ap­p­ly and to my surp­ri­se and de­light, I was one of five who were se­lec­ted, out of 87 who had ap­p­lied. And sin­ce be­co­ming a love am­bas­sa­dor, I have had many new op­por­tu­ni­ties to le­arn about the his­to­ry and cul­tu­re of Pori. I make posts on my so­ci­al me­dia where I share in great de­tail what I have been le­ar­ning.

It still surp­ri­ses me that Pori is not on more of those lists I was tal­king about. There’s so­met­hing for eve­ry­bo­dy here, I think. Ma­y­be in time, things will chan­ge and Pori will be­co­me more ap­p­re­ci­a­ted around the world. But for now, Pori is my home. I have of­fi­ci­al­ly star­ted plan­ting roots here and now I have a son who was born in Pori. I want him to al­wa­ys re­mem­ber where he co­mes from and to be con­nec­ted to his home even if he ends up mo­ving ac­ross the world too one day. It’s more than just chee­ring for the lo­cal sports te­ams, kno­wing his­to­ry, and un­ders­tan­ding the Pori di­a­lect. It’s about un­ders­tan­ding how yo­ur ho­me­town cont­ri­bu­ted to who you be­co­me, for bet­ter or wor­se. In my son’s case, I hope gro­wing up in Pori awa­kens his kar­hu spi­rit and that stays with him throug­hout his li­fe­ti­me.


Matt Bo­wen is an Ame­ri­can li­ving in Pori, Fin­land with his wife San­ni, their son, Ed­vin, and their dog, Pipo. You can fol­low their jo­yr­ney on Mat­t­hew´s Fa­ce­book blog, My Life in Fin­land (www.fa­ce­book.com/Mat­tin­Fin­land/).