Risking it all to have a voice.

I was apprehensive to meet this mysterious man who 16 years ago had fled Iraq in fear of his life. Before we met I wondered if there would be many difficult walls to break down when we tried to have a conversation together. Would he be as dark as his gruesome stories, with no such thing as a happy ending?

Canadian André Noël Chaker likes to keep busy. Since arriving in Finland in 1992 from Montréal, he has worked as a teacher, lawyer, singer, Senior Advisor to the President at the Finnish lottery and author.

Recent years have seen him add more feathers to his crowded cap. After his book, The Finnish Miracle, a theory about Finnishness and success, was released in 2011, its positive response saw him set out on the speakers’ circuit. And so, last year Speakers Forum’s Speaker of the Year award would make itself comfortable on his mantelpiece.

Gyöngyi Kovács is helping Finland lead the way in the research and implementation of humanitarian aid logistics.

Most foreigners who come to Finland do so out of work, out of love or out of looking for a better life. Gyöngyi Kovács came after tossing a coin. After it landed on the side that favoured a holiday in Finland over New Zealand, in 2000 Kovács toured around the country from top to bottom, quickly realised she liked it and decided to live here.

This trio finds nothing to fear (and plenty to smile about) After Dark with the local lingo.

SITTING with David Brown, Mimmu Takalo and Juan Hernández, stories and jokes flow thick and fast. Language trainers in English (Brown) and Finnish (Takalo), two thirds of the trio are responsible for 6D’s ongoing Finnish After Dark column for the past few years. Now it’s time to unleash their alternative dictionary to the masses, with Hernández providing visual interpretation for their new book, which compiles a number of their more memorable entries.

June Hyde draws on her bilingual upbringing to inform a kaleidoscope of performances.

standing with her toes at the edge of the stage, June Hyde turns to ask the lighting operator in Finnish if we could have more illumination. A brief pause, before gentle light fades the rows of seats into focus, and we commence her photo shoot. Here, at the focal point of Helsinki City Theatre, she is at home. Hyde effortlessly switches back to English, with her perfect British accent giving little away of the fact she has lived the overwhelming majority of her life in Finland.