Dear association actives, it is a pleasure to see so many of you here. If I had a hat, I would tip it to you for volunteering for us students.
Unfortunately, I myself only attended my first Associations’ Kick-off last year, although I’m sure it would have been very useful to me even before that. I originally got involved in the association work when I got a call from the 2019 autumn meeting of my own subject association, Vostok. In the call, my friend told me that Vostok was in need of a board member for international affairs. I got involved as a shy fresher and now, over four years later, I get to stand here as the chair of TREY. I had never before in my life been involved in any kind of student union activity in primary or secondary school. So, I had no idea at all how a meeting worked or what I was actually supposed to do as a board member.
Fortunately, you don’t do this job alone. So please remember to support and help each other and remember, especially today, that there are no stupid questions. Here you will hopefully learn the very skills that will benefit you not only this year but also later in life. As well as being very rewarding, this whole scene is an incredibly important part of the university community.
A few weeks ago, TREY’s board met with British student union actives here in Tampere. One of them asked why students in Finland, and Finns in general, are so happy. Finland is known to be the happiest country in the world. At first I said, half-jokingly, that we ourselves don’t understand why we are the happiest. Could it be a statistical error? Students are finding it increasingly difficult to cope with financial challenges and balancing study and work, for example. Many are also concerned about the future because of the unstable state of the world. However, there is at least one area in which students in Finland excel: association work. Finland is the promised land of associations, of which the 170 associations and guilds within our Student Union are a pretty good example.
I feel that it is the sense of community, peer support and making friends that we get from these associations that supports our students’ well-being. So whatever your role this year, whatever your association, it is your contribution that is really valuable. Huge thanks to all of you for doing your part to contribute to each other’s well-being.
With these words, I wish you fruitful discussions and workshops. See you at the after-party!
Banner picture of Noora: Anriika Kauppi / Visiiri