Professionals from the Reserve
Ms. Anni Seppälä
- Most of the peacekeepers from Finland are from the reserve, but they all are volunteers, says 26-year old Anni Seppälä, who has served under the UN flag in Chad and Kosovo. Today she works as a physical education teacher at the University of Jyväskylä.
- Eventhough I got accepted into a university, I chose the military service. I thought it could open new doors for me and teach something I couldn’t learn in a university. It was easy to postpone my studies for a year, Ms. Seppälä explains.
- During my military service I became interested in peacekeeping. I applied to go to Kosovo because I wanted to understand the character of crisis better. I also believed we could make a difference.
Ms. Seppälä appreciates the training she received prior to her mission: “The training focused on the destination country issues such as culture, religion, gender issues, language, just to name a few.” Ms. Seppälä served on two peacekeeping missions, first in Kosovo and then in Chad as a squad medic and a squad deputy leader.
- Our mandate on these missions included the protection of civilians and humanitarian work. One of our duties was to ensure the safety of refugees and UN personnel. In addition, we observed the human rights progression.
“Teacher background helped me in communication”
- My background as a teacher helped me in communicating with the locals, especially children, to whom I taught some Finnish. We did have time to play some football, too!
Ms. Seppälä holds Finnish peacekeepers in high regard. She identifies the reasons why the global community has welcomed Finnish peacekeeping forces: the awareness of expectations and diverse know-how among the troops.
Professionals From All Sectors
- Most of our troops come from the reserve and have a civilian occupation or profession, which is why we can field experts from education, medicine, security and engineering, for example, Ms. Seppälä reminds us.
The peacekeeping missions have given Ms. Seppälä new perspectives to many things: “I now understand the importance of education and human rights – especially children’s rights.”
“We can make a difference”
- Finland takes the responsibility of working for peace very seriously and is a model nation in peacekeeping efforts. It is very important to continue the work with the United Nations, Ms. Seppälä advises and concludes, “After two peacekeeping missions, I am confident we can make a difference.”