Our sixth meeting that we had yesterday was about Finnish history. Elisa and I started the history “lesson” by telling that Finland was covered by a thick layer of ice during the last ice age over 10000 years ago and that hunter-gatherers started coming to these parts of the world sometime after the ice had retreated.
We told Nghi that Finland was a part of Sweden for hundreds of years until it became a part of Russia in 1809. We explained how Finland became independent while the Second World War was going on and how the revolutions in Russia in 1917 had an effect on Finland’s journey towards independence.
We told that the country was divided after independence was gained and that there was a civil war between “the red” and “the white” in Finland that made even brothers turn against each other if they were on different ideological sides.
When we were discussing the Second World War, I found out that in addition to my grandmother also Elisa’s grandmother had to abandon her home that is on the Russian side of the border even today due to the terms in the peace treaty that made Finland give up areas in Karelia. We mentioned that reconstruction of the Finnish economy started after the war and that Finland was quite proud for being able to pay all war reparations to the Soviet Union as agreed.
When talking about the history and politics in our countries, we realized that what the countries have in common is that they were under the rule of another country or countries for a long time. However, when talking about the political systems, there is a remarkable difference between the countries: we have a multi-party system where the individual politicians can be fairly heavily criticized, whereas in Vietnam there is only one ruling party and it is probably safer not to openly criticize the people in power.