Curiosity is at the heart of journalistic endeavour — it is the desire to know why things work a certain way and how that might impact people’s lives and the decisions they make, and Finland has intrigued me particularly ever since my grad school days at Columbia University in New York. In our business and economics reporting classes, we’d compare and contrast major Western economies to that of the Scandinavian model, a discussion driven especially by my Danish and Finnish classmates.
My interest in Finland grew deeper upon discovering that my tiny equatorial island country, Singapore, and Finland have had a decades long history of engaging with and learning from each other. Small wonder, for we are both small open economies who have built up much human capital through strong education systems. But even in those shades of similarities, there are deep differences in our philosophies, ranging on how and what we choose to teach our children, to our stance on the welfare system and how we care for society’s most vulnerable and least privileged.
On top of being a curious journalist, I’m also a citizen of the my country and the world. Every choice to organise society in a different way comes with its tradeoffs (as a good economics student would know) so I’m excited to go to Finland to learn about this country, what makes it tick, and ultimately to understand what Finland can teach the world and my own country and vice versa.
Having spent significant portions of my life in my home country and in the U.S. for my tertiary education, I’ve learned among and from peoples and societies oceans away. I’ve experienced what a mixing of ideas can do to broaden our minds as global citizens. This is especially urgent in this moment and age when capitalism is being questioned even as this system runs our lives more than ever, when the global economic and political centres of power are shifting, when technology has blurred borders and also even our perceptions of truth and fact and reality. I’ve realised that it’s only even more important to listen, engage and question. That’s what brings me to Finland. What I will bring home from there, I’m excited to find out.