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Vappu speech 2020 by Sofia Engblom, the Chair of TYY's Executive Board

News | 30.4.2020

This year you can watch the traditional Vappu speech in Finnish from YLE Areena. Here you can find the English translation. 

Dear students and people of Turku, dear Vappu celebrants!

To begin with, I want to wish you a great Vappu! This is not the way we hoped to celebrate students’ favourite feast, but this year Vappu feels like an even more important glimpse of hope. I wish you have made this evening special even in these circumstances.

Circumstances - we all know them well. We all have been forced to make adjustments in the changing situation. The corona pandemic has hit some of us harder than others. The structures of society have been tested.

The crisis raised many worries from the perspective of students.

Income. As the only group of people in Finalnd, students’ social benefit is based on performance. The problematic nature of the form of the benefit came up again when studies could not be carried out via remote access in the planned manner in some fields.

Mental health issues. According to studies, at least thirty percent of students have psychiatric issues. In Turku, one in ten of university students is lonely.  In a state of change, what is a student’s tolerance like, when even the starting point is amiss for so many?

Worry about the future. Young adults worry about the future of the world, society and people close to them. There are concerns about one’s own future when employment situation feels uncertain.

Dear listeners,

Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.

We have seen a fall in level of air pollutions, for the first time in three decades, one can see Himalaya from northern India. If we push ourselves, we can imagine a broader societal change: in addition to a leap to digitalisation we can leap also when it comes to sustainability.

I noticed, that students and people in general crave for a sense of community and feeling of belonging. In addition to asking from our grandma, we also ask a fellow student via remote access “how are you doing”. Companies are advertising themselves with new slogans “let’s take care of each other”.

We have had the chance to witness exemplary activeness from citizens. In the acute situation, students worked for the good of others and they are now ready to rebuild Finland and world in sustainable manner after the crisis.

I plead you,

We must have the courage to recognise, what it is in our lifestyle and in our society that we want to preserve and what is it that should be given up.

We must have the courage to get started and carry out the change. There is no better moment for that than this.

Dear Vappu celebrants,

I fear, that our memory is too short and that we are looking at a space too narrow with our binoculars.

I ask you, what is left when this situation is over?

Will we remember, that it is possible to decrease the amount of pollution and carbon dioxide in the air, even in a short time? Do we see the worth of Finnish educational system, from the high quality early childhood education to higher education? Will we remember how quickly and flexibly resources were given to support those who are in a weak social standing?

First and foremost, will we remember the power of regional, national and international cooperation, when it is time to solve other critical questions of the humankind?

Honoured celebrants,

We in the University of Turku have studied, researched and built a better Finland for a hundred years. What next? We are the generation that must create us #finland200 -plan or Tellus.2.0 -strategy. What are the guidelines and values that can actually be signed by the majority of us and which are not bound to the change of parties in the government or hot topics on daily politics?

What do you want there? By which means do we have a Finnish welfare state in hundred years? What will you do for a better world?

I want Finnish educational system to be at the top of the plan. We need support and resources to the whole educational path so that we will have a diverse group of people studying in our institutions of higher education. We need resources to mental health services, for both preventive and reactive operations.

We must take people’s need for sense of community from this crisis time. No one should be left alone.

 We must all take responsibility to build sustainable future and to dare to be bold advocates of change. 

Dear builders of future,

Today we start this change by celebrating Vappu. Even though we aren’t celebrating it traditionally, we have the privilege of feeling togetherness with each other and thousands of other Vappu celebrants. You are an important part of this Vappu celebration. Now it is time to rejoice spring, Vappu, and new possibilities!

Are you ready?

Students - put your hat on!