YA Helsinki 2013

Day 6: You may not remain neutral

“Let’s imagine the German Emperor William the Second had been smart. If this had been the case at the beginning of the 20th century, Europe today would look very different.” This view was described to us by a group of our participants in their final presentation tonight (which at this hour is actually already last night). Malte, Tomek, Martina, Anastasija and Simon spent the six hours allocated for the final project on analyzing the past and coming up with alternate history, namely how things would have played out if WWI never took place. In the group’s alternative history there was, however, a war in Europe at the beginning of the 20th century, but it was much shorter and less countries were involved in it than in the WWI we know today: “After a diplomatic incident...[Read More]

Day 5: Not-so-casual Friday

”President Ahtisaari is now going to come and meet you” was a sentence that made our hearts skip a beat or two today when we were visiting the office of the Crisis Management Initiative (CMI) in Helsinki. During the preceding hour the staff had told us about the work CMI does before, during and after conflicts all around the world but we had no idea that the founder and chairperson of the board of the organization would join us as well. Tina and the Finnish Eustory coordinator Hanna knew of the possibility to meet the former Finnish president, but they hadn’t told this to the rest of us in order to avoid disappointment if the meeting couldn’t be arranged. We were lucky that President Ahtisaari was even in Finland during our visit, as he travels an average of 100-150 days in a year. In fact...[Read More]

Day 4: From zombies to national heroes

Today we kicked our morning off with energizers, as our trip to Ressu upper secondary wasn’t quite as dramatic as our bus ride to Tampere yesterday. After running around playing zombies and toilets for long enough to feel awake and ready for the day, we started the actual programme. First we got to hear about the Finnish Civil War from a Fennoswedish perspective when our alumni Sofia briefly summarized the competition entry she wrote five years ago for the national history competition. This research about the tracks of the Civil War in the minds of Fennoswedish youth was also her entrance ticket to Eustory in 2008, when the competition was arranged in Finland for the first time. Sofia’s presentation opened a new perspective on the Civil War, as we had so far focused mainly on t...[Read More]

Day 3: Tampere – in the garden of Death

Today’s word of the day… death! We visited a mass grave and places of execution as well as stared at the painting The Garden of Death by Hugo Simberg in Tampere Cathedral. To top it off, we even got a brush with death while travelling from Helsinki to Tampere by bus. What we imagine was a stressed businessman talking on his phone tried to change to the bus lane in order to cut off the dense Helsinki region morning traffic, forcing our alert driver to swerve off the road in order to avoid a collision. At this point most of us were taking the opportunity to make up for any possible lack of sleep but got a very rude awakening. Luckily, this was the only consequence of the incident. A bus tour was next on the agenda upon our arrival, followed by lunch at the Vapriikki premises, whe...[Read More]

Day 2: Message from the grave

This morning the breakfast room of the Suomenlinna hostel was filled with 28 more or less tired faces. Some of us had stayed up late celebrating the birthdays of two of our participants, while some of us watched as the newly published blog post disappeared in front of our eyes. We got the first lesson of the day right after we left the hostel: history repeats itself. The ferry to Helsinki city was also disappearing in front of our eyes, less than 8 hours after the previous incident. However, we turned this into our favor and used the extra 20 minutes to scout for a memorial dedicated to people who lost their lives in the prisoner camp of Suomenlinna during the Finnish Civil War. The war which took place in 1918 was fought between the socialists – so-called reds – and the non-so...[Read More]

Day 1: Fish hooks, stockings and champagne

Hyvää iltaa from Finland! We are Anna and Sofia, the two EUSTORY alumni that will be in charge of keeping you updated regarding the happenings at the Youth Academy currently taking place here in the historical hotspot of Suomenlinna, just outside of Helsinki. Today we were treated to a late breakfast since the last participants had arrived to the island of Suomenlinna at two in the morning. After a rather silent breakfast we started our academy with some getting-to-know-each-other exercises – and managed to learn at least the names of the 24 participants. After stating their expectations (and testing their acting skills) through improvised seminar closing speeches the participants were faced with a challenge – to see how far a box of matches would take them through bartering wi...[Read More]

Versatile interests, common expectations, room for discussions: On Sunday we start the seminar season 2013

On Sunday, Helsinki will get to welcome 24 young Europeans as its guests for one week. But who are these young people and what do they expect from their stay here? Geographically this group is wide spread, our participants are coming from 11 different European countries, from Southern Spain to Russia, Bulgaria to Sweden. Despite sharing their enthusiasm towards history, the participants are a versatile group when it comes to their interests. Most of the participants are upper secondary school students, although some have already began their studies at the university or are starting them this autumn. For instance, Karin (18) from Slovakia is beginning her studies on marketing communication and advertising, while Tomasz  from Poland studies Law and Anastasija (19) from Latvia History. What t...[Read More]