The Helsinki Summer School Kick-off!

Yesterday was a wonderfully hectic day for the Summer School staff. After registering and helping out dozens (if not hundreds?) of students, the staff, students, course coordinators and the Rector squeezed themselves into the Great Hall for the Opening Ceremony. The event was joyful and relaxed. It started with the speech of Programme Manager Pauliina Mikkonen, who talked shortly and then made the students stand up when their country was called out. The visibly largest country group were the Chinese, who stood up en masse, which seemed to cause a bit of a surprise in most people.

The speech was followed by a perky tap dance / rhythm / song performance by Ompelukerho. The three colourful women descended to the stage singing All you Need is Love, to which they gradually added tapping. The audience was also made to join and surprisingly enough, everyone did! The participants were divided into three groups, each group receiving a certain rhythm they had to make with their hands or feet. The artists then started to sing and tap and the audience was included group by group. The result was a massive rhythm machine that jammed in such a way that nothing similar has probably ever been seen in the Great Hall.

The Ceremony continued then with two speeches: the one of Tihana, a HSS alumni from last year and the speech of Rector Jukka Kola. Tihana had a wonderfully easy-going and personal speech, in which she reminisced her time here last year, gave the new HSS students some useful tips (such as watch out for cyclers and the garlic spread in Unicafe), as well as she emphasised the importance of being open minded and making international friends. Jukka Kola had also a laid-back approach. The rector’s speech was short but condensed. He was very satisfied with the level of teaching in the Universities organising HSS, as well as he thanked all the teachers, coordinators and staff committed to making the Summer School happen. He also wanted all the HSS students to think about becoming a HSS ambassador, as well as attending the Night of Future Possibilities. The HSS ambassadors are chosen to spread the joy word of HSS, whereas the Night of Future Possibility (August 14) showcases what the University of Helsinki, Aalto University and Hanken School of Economics have to offer to international students.

Finally, when all the students and staff etc. poured out of the Great Hall, they were squashed in the entrance hall for a group picture. The Rector then offered food and drinks to everyone in the Rector’s quarters. The offerings were taken with good appetite and the drinks worked as a good start for the evening’s later activities. The atmosphere was joyful and everyone was keen to get to know each other. The mingling continued later on downtown in a club, where the most energetic ones shook it until late in the night.