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Photo of FinnConn folk dancers standing in costume, 1992
FinnConn folk dancers of Finnish American Heritage Society, 1992

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Sisu and Creativity-The Essence of Finnish Immigrants in Eastern Connecticut
A Local Legacy

Do you have sisu? Have you ever even heard of it before? Sisu is a Finnish word that describes someone who works hard and has determination and perseverance.

This word came to America with Finnish immigrants who began to settle in Connecticut in the 1920s. The immigrants were escaping poverty at home and looking for land, which they were able to buy cheaply from Yankee farmers. Because they had sisu they became successful in their new community.

Finnish sisu helped the immigrants farm rocky land and hand-pour cement foundations for their homes and other buildings. Many made a decent living selling chickens and eggs. Their hard work and perseverance also helped them build social halls where immigrants could meet others with similar backgrounds and languages. A group called the Finnish American Education Association bought land and built social halls in various parts of Connecticut.

In 1987, inspired by a desire to prevent the sale of their Finnish hall for unpaid taxes, the Finnish American Heritage Society was formed in Canterbury. To this day their mission is to promote Finnish heritage, culture and language -- all of which they do with a combination of hard work, determination, and perseverance.

The next time you have a very difficult job to do, think sisu!

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