ScholarShift Stories: An Audience with a Dignitary

January 19, 2017

SSM students meet with Finnish Ambassador to the U.S. during recent visit to Minneapolis.

Shattuck-St. Mary’s students had the unique opportunity to attend a luncheon with Kirsti Kauppi, the Ambassador of Finland to the United States at the Minneapolis Club as part of a ScholarShift module on Friday, January 13. During the luncheon, Kauppi spoke of the important relationship between Finland and the U.S., her thoughts on a wide range of issues, and the impending 100th anniversary of Finland’s independence.

Ahead of Friday’s luncheon, students joined Director of International Recruitment and ESL Andrew Garlinski ’98 and History Instructor Patrick Schaefer to discuss the role of embassies and ambassadors, and explored the gravity of the position.

The SSM group, which included two Finnish students in addition to international students from Thailand, Vietnam, South Korea, China, and the U.S., also had the opportunity to meet with Kauppi during a special reception held before the luncheon. Being the only high school students in attendance, Kauppi spent 15 minutes with SSM students and answered a series of questions related to her influential position.

“It was wonderful for our students to meet someone who works with world leaders to shape foreign policy that affects so many people.” Garlinski said.

Following the luncheon, students had an elevated level of respect and admiration for the impactful role.

“After listening to the Ambassador, I knew right away that it is not an easy job,” said Max Pranompont ’17. “You do not speak for yourself, and every word that you say impacts the relationship between your country and another country.”

Since joining Finland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1983, Ambassador Kauppi has held a successful career in public service including diplomatic posts in Bangkok, Brussels, Berlin, and Vienna. Prior to her current post, Ambassador Kauppi was Director General for Political Affairs at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Helsinki. In addition to her native Finnish, Ambassador Kauppi is fluent in English, Swedish, German, and French and is an avid reader of history.

For more on Ambassador Kauppi’s visit, check out the following coverage in the Star Tribune and Global Minnesota.