Finland: For the Idealist in You

Last year, through my summer internship, I had the opportunity to visit the Finnish Embassy in Washington, DC. I was attending a press event about the 2021 Helsinki Biennial, a recurring art installation located on an island near Finland’s capital city. The embassy would be my first site visit of the summer. Upon my arrival, I was greeted by a modern gray building surrounded by lush green trees and covered in moss and ivy. The air was misty that morning, so it almost felt like I was entering a hidden jungle retreat in the middle of the city, a peaceful spot away from the commotion.

Initially I was nervous. It was my first event! How could I not be. However, my nerves quickly subsided, as I was welcomed with open arms by the embassy staff and greeted by a delicious Nordic breakfast. During the event, I was moved by the message of the biennial exhibit, that art could be a catalyst for change. The central theme? Hope in the face of adversity. The idealism put forth by the exhibition curators and the mayor of Helsinki felt truly special to me, and like something I needed to hold on to.

Right now, I am a student at William & Mary, a public university in the United States. I am passionate about environmental protection, as well as how technology and human innovation can be used to combat climate change. In the future, I believe the challenges our world faces will only get more complex and I think that the only way to overcome those challenges will be through science, technology, and the resilience of the human spirit. 

A year after the event, I can say with confidence that visiting the Finnish Embassy and getting a taste of the Finnish mindset of hope and idealism was a formative part of figuring out who I am as a person, what I want to pursue in my life, and what I want to fight for. Finland showed me how forward thinking policies in climate change, healthcare, and education can transform a nation. It is a transformation I hope my own country will one day choose to make.

Before last summer, I had no connection to Finland whatsoever (I don’t think I had ever even met a Finnish person!). But after getting a taste of what Finland stands for, I am eager to dive in and learn more. During the FCP program, I am most excited to learn about Finland’s progressive climate policy. I want to get into the details of their climate change solutions to see what kind of steps the United States could take to move in a similar direction. 

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