- The following text is a translation from the article "Suomalaisuus tutuksi", written by Juha Arkkukangas and printed in "YO-lehti" the paper of the university students in Kajaani, 01.10.2000 -

Get to know the Finns!

In the beginning of September, our choir from my home municipality Veteli was on a concert tour around Western Europe. During the trip, we had concerts in Brussels, in Belgium as well in Hamburg, Trier and Hanover in Germany. In Hanover we had the possibility to perform in Finnish pavilion of the World Expo 2000. The concert consisted of Finnish folk music songs accompanied with a small string orchestra. We were also invited as quests to visit the Finnish pavilion and the departments of other countries as well.

The popular Finnish pavilion The Finnish pavilion had a wooden external surface, which had been covered, according to old tradition, with tar paint. The building was shaped like cube and inside it had small area of beautiful Finnish forest. Birches, stones, moss and everything else you would expect to find in the forest, had been transported intact to the exhibition grounds from Finland. Everything was alive and you could even smell the forest. But before we dived into the woods, we were greeted by the beautiful and very cheerful Finnish Maiden. It was noticeable that the staff working at the Finnish pavilion was very friendly and willing to serve, more so than in most of the exhibitions of other countries. So, they were able to create a very warm atmosphere for the visitors.

Children's drawings and cell phone ringing tunes The first section of the exhibition presented the children's impression of what it meant to be Finnish. There were a whole lot of drawings, which had been painted by children. They had also put together a sauna and a tree, where instead of birds cell phones did the chirping. From the children's world, the tour continued through the birch forest to the other side of the building. That section displayed the best of fashion and industrial design, in very inventive way. There was also a gigantic whiteboard reaching from the floor to the sealing and you could write your own signature on that slowly rolling canvas. After that we walked again through the birch forest to get to the third section. Immediately after entering, you could smell the odor of resin, because the walls were covered with thin tree trunks. The movement of the queue slowed down and people were almost silent, as if there was a sign saying: walk slowly and silently. But there was no such sign, people just stopped to watch a calming view of a Finnish forest pond. A "live" wild nature, with swans, fish and other animals, was projected to a big screen. In thoughts, it was easy to "return home", while walking on the soft floor, which felt almost like soft moss, and listening to sounds of nature. Before leaving the building, you could buy something nice from the souvenir shop, which displayed i.e. traditional Finnish craftsmanship.

There was a genuine birch forest inside the Finnish pavilion Before even entering the Finnish pavilion, its popularity was quite evident, judging by the incredibly long line, which was outside. The exhibition had achieved fame and most of the visitors were obviously aware of that. The building was also very well situated on the enormous exhibition grounds. That central location was very important on an area of 500.000 square meters. Altogether the Finnish exhibition cost 92 million FM, so it was no wonder that it was so brilliant.

- Juha Arkkukangas -