UN Youth of Finland made an excursion to Paris in November 2017. Below you can find travelogue written by one of the attendees Hasan Sohail.
To spread the awareness about agenda 2030, UN Youth of Finland provided us with the opportunity to visit the city of lights, Paris. Paris! I was finally able to make it again to this wonderful city of architecture, love, romance and ultimate fun.
Just three months ago, my first tour to this amazing city happened. There wasn’t second thought of not falling in love at first sight with Paris. In my first trip, I thought it would be possible for me to peel every layer of the city. Alas! The truth is: You will never get bored of this city. My first trip to Paris concluded with amazing memories but with a passion to visit it again soon.
A typical morning; cup of coffee in hand, looking through frosty windows of my apartment, praising the beauty of Tampere city, my cell phone broke the silence with an email notification sound. Might be some old same scamming emails! Oh wait! My heart throbbed, I opened the email, and it made my day: I was selected as one of the UN Youth of Finland representative for Paris excursion. Indeed, I was super excited by this email as it was going to unfold new travel and educational experiences for me in near future.
It was time to start planning and packing luggage for five days stay in Paris. Preliminary program for the Paris excursion was provided to us from UN Youth of Finland. Accommodation was booked and flight tickets were grabbed. On a sunny morning of 22nd November, I landed in the city of dreams.
23rd November, the first official day for our Paris excursion started with an educational visit to Finnish Embassy. The tall building of Finnish embassy is located near majestic view of Siene river and beautiful national assembly of France.
French government has honoured Finland by entitling the name of place for Finnish Embassy as Place De Finlande. We were welcomed by two female Finnish delegates who guided us through the rest of session. Interior decoration and architecture of Finnish embassy is beautiful emblem of four Finnish seasons. Splendid woodwork, ceramic art and textile designs are central piece of attraction. Finnish Embassy and consulate always promote the message of equality and peace. 46% of Finnish delegates globally are women and delegates to Finnish Embassy in Paris are also mostly women. They work to help all the Finnish citizens or residents during difficult times. Moreover, Embassy also helps to follow up political situation in France, EU and other international issues. Bilateral relations between France and Finland are very cooperative and friendly. In France by embassy of Finland, Visit Finland office, assists to promote the economic and commercial ties between 2 countries. It was a three hours long meeting with healthy discussion about bilateral diplomatic relations between Finland and France.
Evening of 23rd November was planned for meeting with alumni of UN Youth of Finland, Antonia Westerholm, currently residing in France. There was an interesting and causal discussion with Antonia about her past experiences with YK-nuoret. She highlighted the tremendous work association has been doing for awareness and implementation of United Nations resolutions among Finnish youth and students. First day of our trip concluded with lots of energizing and motivational stuff to make this excursion more successful in rest of days for the week.
Next day was marked to visit the UNESCO-IIEP office. We were warmly welcomed to the office with a presentation about their mission, goals and upcoming projects. The office of UNESCO-IIEP is one of the organisations working under and in close collaboration with UNESCO. It was founded by UNESCO in 1963 with headquarter in Paris. 90% of the funding has to be raised externally with 10% of the regular budget from UNESCO’s regular income.
In precise terms, we can say this organization as “a global network of educational stakeholders”. The vision of IIEP is “all children and youth learn from quality learning opportunities for sustainable development and peace”. They work in relation with ministry of education for the target countries enabling them to improve the quality, equity and relevance of educational planning and policy implementation. IIEP works with the UNESCO member states for providing training, technical assistance and assists in producing new knowledge. All the research, publications and findings from the office are shared through several platforms like online library, printed newsletter and e-letter etc. There are also specialized platform from IIEP to share their work such as: Planipolis (Education plans and policies from member states) Clearing House on HIV/ AIDS and ETICO (Information on ethics and transparency in education). Education and awareness is the key for finding sustainable solutions of the core issues globally. In the end of presentation, we were showed documentary on how IIEP works through different channels. We appreciated and graciously thanked them with traditional Finnish Chocolate (Fazer) and Napkins (Marimekko) on behalf of UN Youth of Finland for the noble work they are doing to make this world a better place to live.
25th November, last day of the excursion:
Most awaited day was finally here. Day of 25th November was dedicated to organizing a workshop on Agenda 2030 (Sustainable development goals) as representative of UN Youth of Finland in collaboration with Anteene UNEP- SONU. This workshop was held in Sorbonne University with French students. Building of this university is masterpiece of French architecture. It is considered the second oldest university in Europe dating back to medieval period. University of Sorbonne is well known academically for its best ranked academic performance in humanities.
Workshop begin with presentation from UN youth representatives about the work and agenda of UN Youth and its role in contributing for Agenda 2030 in Finland. Along with the introduction of UN Youth, all the 17 sustainable development goals were briefly introduced to the French students from representative of UN Youth of Finland. To make the workshop exciting and indulging for attendants as well, students were divided into groups and suggested to make a poster about their favourite goal among Agenda 2030 and how we can individually and collectively contribute to the implementation of those goals. Each group gave a presentation about interesting ideas for the individual roles that one can contribute. It was astounding experience to hear different ideas from brainstorming of several brilliant students. Workshop ended with a key message from each student about their awareness for Agenda 2030. Later on, we also had a joyful of experience of sitting together with French students sharing cups of coffee and getting to know each other more.
Indeed, the Paris excursion was a wonderful educational experience for me. I am humbly thankful to UN Youth of Finland for selecting me as their representative. My all best wishes and appreciation for the association in implementation of their sincere goals.
Text: Hasan Sohail