Hardworking beauty queen proud of her motherlands

By Fu Jing in Helsinki | China Daily UK | Updated: 2017-04-06 17:52

Her father is typically Finnish and also humble and shy, while her Chinese mother is open and easy-going. Both parents have an appreciation of hard work.

Hardworking beauty queen proud of her motherlands

"I'm very good at coping in new situations, in new environments."
Shirly Karvinen, the 24-year-old reigning Miss Finland 

Shirly Karvinen, 24, the reigning Miss Finland, feels she embodies the best of her parents' characteristics. She started earning money by working hard at the age of 14, selling magazines over the phone.

"I could earn 400 euros in one month when I was 14," said Karvinen, who was crowned Miss Finland 2016 in May.

Karvinen said her complexion, partially inherited from her mother, has also been an advantage.

"I'm a little bit darker than most Finns and this helped me stand out in the Miss Finland competition," she said.

Karvinen said she feels "proud and honored" that President Xi Jinping is visiting Finland this week.

"I am proud of having two motherlands," she said. "I am very much looking forward to President Xi's visit and I believe this visit will promote mutual understanding."

Karvinen is keen to promote cultural understanding on a personal level.

"As I get older, I really think that it's a special thing that my mom is from China. I am very proud of my Chinese roots," she said.

Karvinen's mom is from Hubei province in Central China. Karvinen's parents met in Africa and the family spent seven years there before returning to Finland, where Karvinen attended primary school.

"I think that it's a very good thing because it gave me a very international background," she said. "I'm very good at coping in new situations, in new environments."

Her Finnish grandfather recognized her potential early and told her as a child she could become Miss Finland.

"It all started as a childhood dream but when I got older, and especially when I moved to Helsinki, then I realized that it is something that I really want to do," said Karvinen. "I wanted to be different, I want to show that there are all kinds of Finnish people."

As she pursued her dream of becoming Miss Finland and studied at a university in Helsinki, Karvinen continued the part-time job that she started when she was 14.

Since she won the title last May, she has been working to promote her country. The job will finish in September when a new Miss Finland will be crowned.

After that, she has aspirations to host a TV or radio show, and she wants to work abroad. She is also involved in advocacy work against school bullying.

She says that, as a youngster living in a small town in central Finland, she looked different from other children and was sometimes picked on.

Karvinen said: "As Miss Finland, I have been talking strongly against bullying and talking about my own experiences and trying to help people who are in the same situation."

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