The Board of Maailmanvaihto

The board of Maailmanvaihto – ICYE Finland  is in charge of our operations and co-operation with other non-governmental organizations. The board works on a voluntary basis.

Maailmanvaihto’s board is selected by the general assembly, the highest decision-making body of the organization, which meets twice a year. All members of Maailmanvaihto are allowed to vote in the general assembly. Maailmanvaihto has some seven hundred members.

Board 2023

  1. How did you end up joining in the activities of Maailmanvaihto?
  2. What sorts of tasks have you had in Maailmanvaihto?
  3. With what kind of a life philosophy do you approach your position as a board member and life in general?
  4. Share a nice memory from participating in Maailmanvaihto’s activities.


A smiling person in a closeup photo, infront of plants.

Lea Absetz

Outgoing volunteers: pre-departure training and support for returning

  1. I volunteered through Maailmanvaihto in India in 2015–2016.
  2. This is my second year on the board of Maailmanvaihto working on the team for departing Finnish volunteers. In the team I focus on themes such as planning and organizing pre-departure training camps and fixing up our re-entry support material. Before I joined the board, I did school visits for Maailmanvaihto for several years, and you may have also bumped into me in a camp kitchen team or interviewing new volunteers.
  3. In India, I was taught that you should always cook without a recipe. Then if your food has too much salt or chili, you will know to put in less next time, and over time you’ll learn to get it just right.
  4. Before my volunteering period in India, I became friends with a Mexican volunteer at Maailmanvaihto’s pre-departure camp. About a year and a half later, when I was about to return to Finland from my volunteering period, I found out his little sister was coming to work at the same school and would be accommodated in my old room!


A amiling person and a guide dog standing infront of a forest scene.

Susanna Halme

Magazine MaailmanVaihtoa – Volunteers’ Voices

  1. I participated through Maailmanvaito’s in European Solidarity Corps volunteering in Austria few years ago. I got inspired and wanted to continue to stay active at Maailmanvaihto.
  2. After my volunteering experience I have participated in a couple of info events and written to the magazine of Maailmanvaihto. Now I start to work as a board member for the first time.
  3. One of my favourite quotes is “If you never take a first step, you never go further.”
  4. When I was in Austria, I went iceskating after a long time. I didn’t do that since my primary school years and thought it’s not my cup of tea. But with friends I tried and liked it – and in the end I did iceskating very many times during my volunteering period. Forget the doubts and be open-minded and try!


A smiling person infront of a wall featuring some decorative lights.

Elina Hirvola

School visit activtivies

  1. In 2020, I spent six months as an ICYE volunteer in Taiwan through Maailmanvaihto. I’ve since then been active in the organization.
  2. I have volunteered as a school visitor, interviewing future volunteers, and attending info sessions to share my experience as an ICYE volunteer in Taiwan.
  3. Often it is worth pursuing opportunities that make you a bit nervous. It usually means you are doing something meaningful.
  4. At Maailmanvaihto’s departure camp, I met a Taiwanese volunteer who was volunteering in Finland at the time. She prepared me for my future volunteering experience by telling me about her home country and introducing me to her favourite Taiwanese foods. Only a year later, I was in Taiwan and got to try with her those same local delicacies that I now also miss!


A samling person infront of a sunny mountain view.

Sasu Katajamäki

Volunteering programs in Finland, development work of voluntary activities

  1. I headed through Maailmanvaihto to India for six months of volunteering in 2014–2015. After my volunteering period, I have aimed at participating in Maailmanvaihto’s activities in different ways, because this way I can keep on supporting the activities which are important for me.
  2. I have participated in Maailmanvaihto’s activities as a school visitor, an interviewer of those who apply for volunteering abroad, and last year as the leader of Maailmanvaihto’s strategy process as well as the vice-chairperson. Now I participate as a board member and a vice-chairperson. This year, I work in the team which is in charge of the voluntary work programs in Finland.
  3. As in life in general, I aim at bringing forward in my board member tasks my warmth and cheer up others!
  4. At Maailmanvaihto’s pre-departure training camp, I met a volunteer from Japan who was currently in Finland. When I introduced myself, the volunteer told me that my name means in Japanese some sort of a way to hit with a Japanese katana. I was in a new way very impressed by the choice of name made by my parents!


A smiling person in a closeup photo.

Hannele Kivelä

Communication work: social media

  1. My university friend, and also a member of the Maailmanvaihto board, Anna sent me a message saying that Maailmanvaihto is looking for fresh blood and new board members. There seemed to be free space in my calendar, and the mission of Maailmanvaihto appealed to me, so I decided to apply and jump on board! 😉
  2. I only began my journey with Maailmanvaihto, so this is my first task.
  3. I look forward to learning and experiencing new things.
  4. My bag of memories is still very light, as my journey is just beginning, but I believe I will soon have many memories to share!


A smiling person in a closeup photo infront a city view with some water.

Anna Mäkinen

Equality matters

  1. I came along to the activities of Maailmanvaihto through an internship. The atmosphere at the office was very inspiring, the tasks interesting and the vision of the organization so well-fitting to my values that I decided to try my wings also as a member of the board!
  2. During my internship I participated in all the arrangements related to the programme of the incoming volunteers and I got to lead their on-arrival training camp. Afterwards I have participated in the camp activities as a volunteer.
  3. It’s a cliché, but true: with an open mind towards new challenges!
  4. I’ve got plenty of opportunities for international networking through Maailmanvaihto by representing it at different trainings, cooperation projects and camps. I’ve got to know cool people who I’m still in touch with and meet, sometimes by coincidence.


A smiling person in a tree.

Hanna Sainio

Volunteering programs in Finland

  1. I was in Brazil as an exchangee of ICYE in 2005–2006.
  2. I shared my experiences of the year in Brazil in an exchange information event.
  3. With curiosity towards all new!
  4. A few years after the exchange, I returned to Brazil, and the ICYE coordinator there had gathered my ICYE friends together at a pizza restaurant for dinner. At the end of the evening a birthday cake arrived at our table, and everyone was singing – we suddenly celebrated my birthday a half year before/after the actual day!


A smling person in a back and white photo, infront of a buliding.

Siiri Sandberg

The project Decolonise International Voluntary Service

  1. I headed to Kenya to volunteer through Maailmanvaihto in autumn 2018.
  2. I have taken part in training those who travel abroad for volunteering from Finland and welcoming international volunteers to Finland.
  3. Wind in the sails and towards new challenges!



A smling person in a closeup photo, infront of a forestry view.

Alma Smolander


  1. I got to know Maailmanvaihto through spending a gap year after upper secondary school as a volunteer in Vietnam.
  2. This is my seventh year in the board, so I have got to participate in many kinds of activities. This year I act as the chairperson for the second year. In previous years, I have participated in the team of communication work and acted as the person in charge of the school visit activities. I have also participated in different kinds of projects and events.
  3. One gets by with a positive attitude!
  4. I have shared wonderful moments with many wonderful people. For example, with the volunteers, I met in Vietnam and I have gathered together more than once to celebrate the new year together, even if we nowadays live in several different countries.


A smling person in a closeup photo, infront of a snowy forest scene.

Elina Villberg

Outgoing volunteers: pre-departure training and support for returning

  1. As a part of my university studies, I did my internship at Maailmanvaihto’s office in the fall of 2019.
  2. I have for example been responsible for the cooking and kitchen duties at camps and represented Maailmanvaihto at various events. In addition, last year I participated in the board in the team which is in charge of the voluntary work programs abroad. My role was to participate in organizing pre-departure training for the volunteers.
  3. I have a joyful and curious attitude towards things and people – you can learn something new from everything and everyone.
  4. Once on an otherwise not-so-snowy winter, we got a proper winter wonderland for Maailmanvaihto’s camp. We made snow sculptures and went to the sauna and ice swimming, which was an exciting first for many. It was nice to be a part of the feeling you get when you dare to do something you’ve never done before.