It was exciting to start to think and plan for the visit of our new European friends here in Huittinen. We had already got a taste of the gathering from Estonia and Latvia. What could we offer? What could rival the spirit of the Old Town of Tallinn or beautiful architecture of Riga, not to mention the fabulous sandy beach of Jurmala? I have to admit that even though this is not a competition, I felt a little pressure. What is there to see in Huittinen? I might have thought about it more critically than the other members of our group, probably due to the fact that I wasn’t born here and I do not necessarily feel that kind of love to Huittinen as my home that would make my eyes shining, when introducing the uniqueness of our municipality.
So, what to show to you? The Church? What is so unique in our church that is so great that our visitors will be delighted? After all, it is certainly beautiful, but the fact is that every single town has its own church, and how might one expect people from different religions in general to see it as interesting or even beautiful? I wonder how many of us even here in Huittinen go there, so isn’t it a kind of fraud … to be proud to introduce the building, which most people, at least of my age, are alienated from and do not feel their own?
Here we were, in the middle of our fields, frantically wondering how we would spend the three rainy autumn days in an interesting way? We were hit by luck! We heard that The Crazy Night of Huittinen would fall on the same weekend when you come. At least people are on the move and even stores are going to keep their doors open later. Furthermore, when it is added with a tour in Rauma and sauna in Säkylä … would it be there????
All my fears and my doubts fell off as soon as I met you on Thursday evening when you arrived! There were no longer the guests and hosts, just friends who wanted sincerely, without prejudice to enjoy each other’s company. You were ready to accept everything offered. Even that sauna and swimming in the icy water, to which nothing in the world would have been able to take me if you all hadn’t wanted to experience it.
As soon as you arrived, there was conveyed a feeling of togetherness, immediacy, the desire to get to know our culture and our customs.
We did not offer you a great hotel and magnificent old buildings, no major shopping paradises. We offered darkness and silence. And ourselves. Your receptivity took off at least my reservations and got me to know the kind of immediacy that one often has to search only.
I wonder why we want to meet each other? The answer is obvious. That isn’t organized excursions or fine settings, but the people. People from all over Europe. People who are externally different from each other, but basically the same everywhere. We all breathe the same air, we eat, we sleep, we love … And now we are studying a common language, so that we are able to speak and to understand each other better. It does not matter where we meet, what kind of program we have in these meetings, at what kind of restaurant we eat and where we sleep. Only thing that matters is that we meet each other and learn to understand each other, each other’s cultures and ways of life. We’ll create experiences together.
I had to pick one photo for this entry. On Facebook there are hundreds of them, some of them are my favorites. But it would have been unfair to choose some other picture than this one of the whole group. In this picture, there is all that why that meeting in Huittinen has received so much praise. You. You made those three days memorable. I can hardly wait for February and seeing you again, the next event to make memories. See you all soon!