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 2022

  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 closeup photo on Lea Absetz.

Lea Absetz

Volunteering abroad

  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 closeup photo on Mia-Elina AIntila.

Mia-Elina Aintila

Communication work: MaailmanVaihtoa – Volunteers’ Voices magazine

  1. I volunteered through Maailmanvaihto in Colombia for a year.
  2. I have done an internship at Maailmanvaihto, presented the organization in events, and interviewed applicants for volunteering. I have also participated in training camp teams and made the layout of the magazine of Maailmanvaihto. So, a bit of everything!
  3. Eagerly and with curiosity: there is always something to learn, people and meaningful interaction are priorities
  4. Year after year, the thoughts of the participants who head abroad for volunteering give me joy and inspiration. Also, the stories of the returnees’ personal insights keep on impressing me strongly.


A closeup photo on Sasu Katajamäki.

Sasu Katajamäki

Volunteering in Finland

  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 closeup photo on Hannele Kivelä

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 closeup photo on Roosa Kontiokari.

Roosa Kontiokari

Communication work: MaailmanVaihtoa – Volunteers’ Voices magazine

  1. I went to volunteer in Nepal through Maailmanvaihto in autumn 2014. After my return, I stayed in the activities of Maailmanvaihto.
  2. Many kinds! At least I have been a board member, participated in communication and training camp tasks, and acted as a school visitor.
  3. Life is much more fun when you know how to laugh at yourself and also a bit at other things, too.
  4. While volunteering in Nepal, I, by coincidence, bumped into my Indian friend, whom I had got to know while they were volunteering in Finland.


A closeup photo on Anna Mäkinen.

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 closeup photo on Hanna Sainio.

Hanna Sainio

Volunteering 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 closeup photo on Siiri Sandberg.

Siiri Sandberg


  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 closeup photo on Henna Sarkkinen.

Henna Sarkkinen

School visits

  1. My friend told me about Maailmanvaihto’s voluntary work programs, and I traveled to Bolivia for volunteering via Maailmanvaihto in 2018.
  2. I have interviewed applicants for volunteering abroad. In addition, I have shared my volunteering experience and presented Maailmanvaihto’s activities in different kinds of events.
  3. You must be ready to take opportunities which can lead you to unexpected places. The most wonderful experiences and the most significant meetings can be found in surprising situations if you are open for different kinds of choices and new opportunities.
  4. I have many of these memories, but the most fun and significant one for me has been that through volunteering I have found a new direction for my studies and got friends and contacts from different corners of the world. Once we were tenting in a tenting area nearby hot springs in Bolivia, near the border of Brazil. In the dark hours of the night, we were paddling in the water when my Brazilian friend Amanda started telling stories about huge anacondas that had been seen near Amanda’s home village. Suddenly, I spotted in the water two glimmering eyes which begun to approach us. We started running toward the shore and kept on going until we noticed that the eyes actually were two soda cans which which were reflecting the moonlight and which the wind was moving around on the water surface.


A closeup photo on Alma Smolander.

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 sixth year in the board, so I have got to participate in many kinds of activities. This year I act as the chairperson. In previous years, I ahve 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 closeup photo on Elina Villberg.

Elina Villberg

Volunteering abroad

  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.