Tom Finn has been chosen to represent Britain in the Foreign Correspondents’ Programme (FCP) organised by Finland’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs. Taking place in August 2010, the programme introduces young journalists to Finland and its government, society, history and culture. Newly graduated Tom has studied politics, history and Arabic at SOAS. While in Finland, he hopes to learn more about the role of the Finnish welfare state – including its world renowned education system.
At 21, Tom is the youngest participant in this years’ programme, but despite his young age is already an experienced journalist. Since 2009 Tom has been a regular contributor on Middle Eastern affairs for the London Student, Europe’s largest independent student newspaper. At the same time Tom writes for SOAS Rag, a university newspaper he co-founded in 2008, and works as a radio presenter for a bi-weekly SOAS university radio show. Later this year he’ll take on a job as copy editor for the Yemen Times, based in Sana’a.
“Working for the London Student has made me realise how much I enjoy writing”, Tom says. “As a journalist, I’ve had the opportunity to interview very interesting people. Professor Charles Tripp, for example, was part of a small team that was invited to 10 Downing Street prior the invasion of Iraq in 2003 to give advice to the then Prime Minister Tony Blair.”
In addition to journalistic work, Tom has worked as an intern for a communications consultancy as well as for the London-based think tank Foreign Policy Centre. The latter, according to Tom, gave him valuable insight into the role that think tanks play in policy making in Britain.
When it comes to Finland, Tom is particularly intrigued in learning more about the role and development of the welfare state and Finland’s active role in UN peacekeeping missions. He is also interested in its state-led education system, something he has learnt about through an undergraduate teacher training scheme. “One of the aspects I find most interesting about the Finnish education system is the philosophy of freedom and autonomy that guides it”, he says.
Tom has never visited Finland before but is excited to be in a multicultural group with people “who all share the same enthusiasm”. He’s also pointed out that his last name could not be more perfect for someone about to spend a month in Finland. “I know! In fact I was wondering if that’s the real reason I got accepted” he laughs.
The Foreign Correspondents' Programme is a training and excursion programme aimed towards young foreign reporters. The programme takes participants from all around the world to Finland for a month, where they are introduced to all aspects of Finnish society, from politics to economics, culture and the Finnish way of life.
Text and photos: Tiina Heinilä, Embassy of Finland