Most of Jyväskylä was still half asleep, trying not to dip their noses in their morning cups, when a red bus started a three-and-a-half hour journey towards the bustling capital Helsinki at 6:30 from Matkakeskus in Jyväskylä. There would be more than enough time to continue our short-dreamt sleep before arriving to our destination.
Finally, we arrived in Kamppi at 10 o’clock. The first destination was the Human Rights Center in the temporary parliament building, Pikkuparlamentti, next to the famous Eduskuntatalo, the parliament house, which is now under renovation.
Assistant specialist Emilia Hannuksela was there to receive us. Director Sirpa Rautio gave us a thorough presentation of what the center does and how it operates in co-operation with Parliamentary Ombudsman. The Human Rights Center focuses on advancing facts based discussion on human rights issues in Finland and strives to improve awareness of them on as many levels as possible. We also got to hear some great pointers on what kind of educational backrounds and language skills they look for in potential employees.
After the first visit we took a quick take-away lunch while walking towards the second excursion spot, the Ministry of Defence. There we we’re received by Max Arhippainen and Sami Heikkilä, who then offered us some coffee and chocolate to rinse away the taste of ready-made supermarket sandwiches.
We got to hear how the ministry works and what they do, and were glad to hear what they do to promote sustainability and environmentally friendly choices in their operations in the spirit of the United Nation’s Sustainable development goals. They also introduced us to the Finnish SDG implementation project, the Society’s Commitment to Sustainable Development.
Next we walked the streets of the windy but sunny Helsinki towards the harbour and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Heli Mikkola from the
unit of development policy welcomed us there and gave us an interesting presentation about how the work of the United Nations is visible in the Ministry’s functionings and what kind of values Finland is specifically interested in promoting in all it’s operations and development co-operation projects.
We were delighted to be presented with UN’s He for She -campaign goodie bags, filled with brochures and all kinds of UN-themed stuff.
That Thursday was a long day, but most of all a rewarding one; to see these special places and to meet and hear distinguished professionals talk about their work was an extremely inspiring and intriguing experience.