Brief in English


Child Care May Finally Appear At University

It is estimated that one out of every five students at the University of Helsinki has children. For years now parents have asked that the university help find and support some kind of day care for these children that would accommodate the irregular schedules of the students. Student parents met again this spring in the hopes of finding a solution. Their suggestion was a kind of “children’s park”, operating three or four days a week. It would be open for a few hours each day and children could be left there occasionally to play for a few hours – time enough for parents to sit in on a lecture or take a test. Parents felt that the ideal child care providers would be future day care professionals studying at the University of Helsinki, who would be paid for their work.
    Technical Division Manager Toivo Vainiotalo has represented the University of Helsinki each year when the university student representative organization, HYY, has looked into founding child care. “The issue comes up each year and it is a valid one, but in practice it is problematic. Day care is a legally regulated activity,” he dismisses. Problem is, he doesn’t know what he is talking about. Anna-Maija Haliseva-Lahtinen, Chief Consultant to the Social Offices, confirms that day care regulations in Finland are quite strict, but feels that the kind of child care proposed by the university parents would in all likelihood not be subject to the rules because it is not regular or continuous with regard to certain children. A ‘children’s park’ with short periods of play time should be okay. The same goes for facilities. Environmental Inspector Petri Puttonen explains, “Of course it is important that the room is clean, with sufficient restroom space nearby, but there are no environmental notification obligations for something like this.”
    Katri Taipale
studies Adult Education and is a stay-at-home mom to two children, Aleksi, who is 5, and 2 year old Alisa. She was one of the students brainstorming about child care. She feels that many university parents are forced to put their children in full-time day care each year because they have no other options. Taipale understands that few university parents want or need forty hours a week of care. “The short-term care alternative could free up local day care spots for families that really need them,” explains Taipale. She feels that the university would also benefit, when students with children are able to graduate faster. Taipale estimates that her own studies will have been slowed by one and a half years because of her child care dilemma.

SETA Celebrates 25 Years

Seta is an organization founded in Finland 25 years ago to promote sexual equality and the understanding of differing sexual orientations. Ylioppilaslehti asked some questions of gay and straight students in honor of the occasion. The questions were first asked from participants within a group of their peers, in the case of the gay students, Group A, they were members of the gay and lesbian interest groups. The hetero group, Group B, was a random sample chosen from e-mail address listings. Afterwards, the two groups were brought together to discuss their answers. Here are a summary of some of their comments.
Should long-term homo relationships be legally recognized?
Group A &- Janne: “It is all about having the same rights as heteros.” Virpi: “So many people read it as homoSEXUAL, as if most of life wasn’t something other than sex.” Group B &- Harri: “Christian political parties argue against homo couples because they fear for the traditional understanding of marriage and family. As long as there is a male-dominated society, there will be a climate hostile to homosexuals.”
    Do you feel that there is sexual equality in Finland today?
Group A &- Marko: “My friends in Joensuu are afraid to go to parties downtown.” Janne: “We’ll have to talk about Helsinki, it’s not worth talking about other place, really.” Riikka: “I think that two women could make out in the corner of any bar and no one would pay them much mind, unless some forty year old guy came and drooled nearby.” Ville: “The climate is changing every year.” Group B &- Jukka: “Marriage and adoption are clearly not equally accessible. I don’t think that we will ever reach true equality and that ‘homo’ will ever be erased as a derogative from some people’s mouths.” Sanna: ‘There are some places and careers in which is still absolutely impossible to be publicly homosexual. But, things are getting better.”
    How does a person’s sexuality affect their identity?
Group A &- Virpi: “It is impossible to say because I will never know what it is like to be a real hetero.” Ville: “I want to be the opposite of the standard hetero man because I find him so disagreeable. I don’t want to behave like hetero males are traditionally expected to. This release has defined my person.” Group B &- Aino: “Those people that have chosen to be publicly homosexual tend to make it their life’s project. It’s not bad, but they have a need to stress it and defend themselves.” Sanna: “Sexuality is personal issue. I doubt we think twice about meeting heterosexuals during our day its not that someone would be first a homo and then something else, I hope.”
    Pieces from the group discussion following the interviews.
Titta: “In 1991 in my hometown, kids still needed permission slips from their parents to listen to a SETA representative talk.” Jeppe: “Transsexuality is out there now, schools will be forced to talk about &- maybe for a whole half hour!” Ville: “In a couple of years, I don’t think that the whole concept of homosexuality is going to mean anything anymore. We have even considered changing our name to from student homosexuals to “rainbow students”.

Power and Influence in the 21st Century: Part Nine

Assistant Circuit Judge Juhani Galkin speaks clear Finnish that even a layperson could understand. His mission in court is to make everyone feel comfortable. “If we can discuss things and talk openly, I believe that justice will be better served.” He honors each new case he hears with a new tie, often bought at a second hand store &- but the symbolism is powerful. The colorful, even humorous language of his verdicts has brought Galkin notoriety among his colleagues. He wants to insure that all parties understand the verdict and the punishment. This principle means that his hearing room is more intimate and young judges even line up on occasion to listen to “Papa Galkin.”
    Galkin recalls a case last spring of a 16 year old boy who was caught stealing a motorcycle. The young man had just bought an older motor bike and stole a newer model in order to trade parts with his own. Galkin saw that he truly regretted what he had done and had already compensated the stolen motorcycle’s owner for his mistake. Galkin found the boy guilty of a crime, but did not order any kind of punishment. “I wrote in my explanation that he was a young man and it was spring, and his mistake was pretty understandable,” chuckles Galkin. Life in the Finnish courtroom is changing with the times. The courts now have a web site and are forced to take their lead from the European Union on many issues. A great deal of their work these days is reinterpreting old law to meet the next century, for example, deciding how copyright laws will apply to the internet.

Ramen Noodles The World Over

Each year the world eats billions of servings of ramen noodles. Just pour the contents of the bag in boiling water and eat. What could be simpler. Instant noodles were first mass marketed in Japan in 1958. Nissin Food Products created Chicken ramen for store shelves and, much to the chagrin of the Japanese Ministry of Health, within a few years they had tens of competitors. Noodles spread throughout the world after 1972, when Nissin brought Top Ramen to the United States. Nissin Foods now has tens of factories selling their products to hundreds of countries.
    Although instant noodles have only been in stores for half a century, the history of noodles reaches far back into history. Chinese people were known to have eaten noodles before the Han dynasty, five thousand years ago. It is said that the famous Italian pasta culture was actually brought to Italy by Marco Polo after his travels East. The noodle boom in Finland didn’t begin until the 90s. Kari Tikkala and Marko Unhola began importing instant noodles in 1994 after seeing them as a staple on Swedish store shelves. They began with the Thai brands of Mama and Yum Yum and the taste caught on quickly. In 1996, over 200 000 kilos of noodles were being imported and this year, Finns are expected to buy over five million noodle packages.

by Pamela Kaskinen