Bede's MUN team interviews the Finnish Ambassador to the UK
Lower Sixth pupil, Hau Tak

On the morning of Tuesday, 14th May, we members of Bede’s very own Model United Nations (MUN) team made our way to London on a whole-day outing to learn more about global security and conflicts. It was not a jam-packed day, by any means, but there was a sense that this was going to be an exciting day out.

This feeling was not all unfounded, in truth, because we had two brilliant opportunities included on the schedule of the day. In the morning we would be spending around an hour at the Imperial War Museum in Lambeth, while in the afternoon we would be visiting the Finnish Embassy in Belgravia, the London neighbourhood famous for playing host to many foreign delegations. This was not your ordinary school trip - it was an excellent learning opportunity.

Despite the slight drizzle of rain outdoors, our moods were hardly dampened as we entered the Imperial War Museum (IWM). We were here specifically to visit the permanent exhibit called Peace and Security: 1945-2014. This tied in nicely with the overall theme of our visit, which was learning about the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the broader history and present-day situation regarding security and conflict around our world.

It was an excellent experience in itself to be able to get up close to the various objects and historical artefacts on display as part of the exhibit. These powerful, material reminders of bygone conflicts and the stories of individuals involved in them helped us engage more deeply with the past than we would have otherwise been able to. We were also fortunate to have time to make brief visits to other areas of the museum, such as the exhibits on both of the World Wars, which were themselves an example demonstrating the need for security and cooperation.

If the IWM visit had been the only item on our itinerary it would have been more than enough for a History-oriented trip, but despite being such an insightful and educational experience in itself, it wasn’t even the main event of our trip! That title was reserved for an even cooler thing: a visit to the Finnish Embassy, where we would have the thrilling opportunity to speak to Mr Jukka Siukosaari, the current Finnish Ambassador to the UK.

As we approached the front steps at the entrance to the Embassy building, there was a palpable sense of excitement and anticipation. The realisation of what we would be doing that afternoon had not yet set in in the morning, but by this point it was dawning on every single one of us. Carrying both eagerness tinged with nervousness, we entered the Embassy and were greeted by the friendly and welcoming staff. They led us to a meeting room where we settled down, and after a few minutes the Ambassador himself walked in.

At the time of writing this article, I am still struggling to contain my enthusiasm, so you can only imagine how delighted we all were when we had the privilege of speaking to Ambassador Siukosaari for around an hour. It is not everyday that you can speak to someone who isn’t just an experienced diplomat but the head of his home country’s diplomatic mission to your country! We listened intently as the Ambassador patiently gave us a basic overview of Finland, its history and its diplomatic situation for 15 minutes, before he then opened the floor up for us to ask questions that we had previously prepared.

The 45 minutes that followed was an absolute delight. My fellow MUN team member Mia braved the trail by asking the first question, which was about sustainability and Finland’s role in preserving the environment. The Ambassador responded by describing Finland’s approach as that of setting a good example for other countries to follow by drawing on the country’s natural strengths and environmental advantages to lead the way in preserving our climate and protecting wildlife.

Following in Mia’s footsteps, my MUN teammates Noor, Zoe as well as myself were all able to ask thoughtful questions, with Noor referring to British politics, Zoe making mention of the Finnish education system, and my two questions revolving around NATO collective defence and gender equality in international diplomacy and leadership. Each question elicited measured and intelligent responses from Ambassador Siukosaari, who interspersed his summaries of Finland’s official viewpoints with astute analysis of politics and international relations, especially regarding European affairs.

Following that, MUN members James, Pippa, Molly and Harrison also posed smart queries, on topics ranging from Finnish-Russian relations to the Ambassador’s personal goals. Through his answers we discovered that the Ambassador was someone with a good sense of humour as well: his reply to the question about his personal goals was “I’d like to retire in peace”! By the end of the hour we spent with the Ambassador, I’d like to think we were all quite convinced that this had been a thoroughly illuminating and exhilarating trip. On behalf of everyone on the Bede’s MUN team, I’d like to thank Ms Webster and Mr McIntosh for their work in making this amazing trip possible. A huge thank you as well to Ambassador Siukosaari and everyone else at the Finnish Embassy for offering this brilliant opportunity to us and for being such welcoming and friendly hosts during our time there!

MUN team at Bede's


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