HOUGHTON - Finland Secretary of State Pertti Torstila spoke at Michigan Technological University today about Finland's role in the world. In the speech, he referenced Finland's much lauded education system, as well as women's rights, noting that Finland was the first country to allow women's suffrage.
Torstila also spoke about Finland's perseverance, a trait he said is shared by the United States.
"Finns and Americans don't let troubles get the best of us - we always make it somehow," he said in his speech. "And that's because we're determined to make it and we work hard to achieve our dreams. That has never changed, even in hard times."
The European Union was also addressed in his speech, noting that the only way Europe can continue to prosper is by providing its citizens a true feeling of belonging, that they are proud to be European and truly believe in Europe.
"I would like to believe that the European dream is not much unlike the American dream," he said. "We all dream of a decent, good life for ourselves and for our children. This can only be achieved through fairness."
In a phone interview Thursday evening, Torstila said he was enjoying the sights that the Copper Country offers and has been amazed by the organization involved in FinnFest.
"It's a fantastic thing you have created," Torstila said. "It's an incredible mixture of dedication and history."
Torstila was also struck by his visit to the Italian Hall disaster site.
"The feeling that was there 100 years after the disaster, the way it was treated and the memory of those that died in this accident - how vividly it still stays in the mind of people," he said.
Torstila said it was important to attend FinnFest because every year that it has been held there has been someone in attendance from the Finland government and he is glad to be this year's delegate.
"It's so unique," he said.