Episode 10

Chat with Henna Pursiainen - CEO of Dare to Learn

For this week’s episode, Petra was glad to reconnect with Henna Pursiainen, CEO of Dare to Learn, a company which hosts an international learning platform and organises a yearly international learning festival. Composed of a six-person team and hundreds of volunteers, Dare to Learn offers events and resources for anyone interested in learning.

For the upcoming learning festival scheduled for September 2020, Henna plans to organise a two-day exploration of continuous learning, or learning after earning your degree. She realises that this type of event is not common, but she believes it should be! After all, she points out, people don’t stop learning after their degree program is complete. By focusing on lifelong learning, Henna hopes to offer an uncommon platform for different kinds of people at varying career stages, bringing sections together.

Petra worked on the event as a volunteer last year, and saw firsthand its success. With 2,000 participants and representation from 50 different countries, the event fostered international conversations about education between learners from around the globe. Henna credits globalization, social media, and Finland’s reputation as a world leader in education with the success of last year’s event. She plans to solicit international participation in future events as well, because she believes that showcasing Finnish education and drawing inspiration from around the world is the way forward.

When planning annual international learning festivals, Henna asks herself how she might create an event where active learning takes place, and wonders how she might engage people to create a memorable message. Her tried-and-true methods of building interesting workshops & an interactive atmosphere of meaningful encounters have been successful in establishing “psychological safety” at the events. In other words, she uses interactive learning settings to make people feel that it is safe to fail and ask stupid questions, because that is how people learn.

When she is not busy planning a multi-day international learning extravaganza, Henna facilitates other operations of Dare to Learn, including Helsinki Learning Week, when the company organises school visits and side events in partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Education, the National Agency for Education, and the City of Helsinki. During Helsinki Learning Week, Dare to Learn helps organise events to promote the Finnish education system and library systems. This week of learning helps showcase the ways in which the Finnish system supports and encourages learning & creativity

Last year, the international learning festival relied on 100 volunteers to run smoothly. The event relied on students and community members, and offered opportunities for individuals to get involved in their community and make friends. Petra found volunteering to be an enriching experience, and strongly recommends giving your time this year if you can. If you want to volunteer, visit the website linked below. Dare to Learn is looking for volunteers who are interested, committed, and above all, willing to learn.

Looking ahead to the 2020 festival, Henna hopes to see everyone in person. In the event that it is not safely possible to gather, Dare to Learn is preparing for a transition to an online platform. Although this process may be challenging, Henna points out that it brings an opportunity to rethink and learn, incorporate digital learning, explore chat rooms, and utilize remote work. While the situation may be frustrating, she believes that it allows us to learn how to improve productivity and gives companies a chance to come together.


Dare to Learn website