Last Days In Oulu

Last Wednesday, the team had the opportunity to spend time on more personal vocational days. Each team member had their own program and each program was exceptional. The information each team member was able to learn was wonderful, but the professional connections we have made are the most valuable souveneirs we take from our vocational visits. After our vocational visits, some team members were able to attend a wonderful event sponsored by the Oulu International Rotary Club. Performers Aurora Reunanen (Soprano) and Tuomas Niininen (Pianist) entertained a large audience with their classical music talents. Aurora is a young opera singer and Tuomas accompanies her on the piano; also playing a few of his own original pieces during this program. The evening’s event was a way to meet with many International Rotarians and other people of Oulu and was a wonderful fundraiser for Polio Plus.
Thursday was another busy day of program in the Oulu area, starting with a trip Kaleva Printing House. During this visit, we were able to tour the entire printing facility with Markku Suorsa. He showed us everything from the large multi-ton printing press, to the robot working 24/7 placing appropriate paper into the machines, to the finished products ready for distribution. In an age where we rely so much on our technologies, it was positive to hear that printed products are still a very valuable part of our future.
After Kaleva, we presented to the Oulu Rotary Club at the Rauhala Restaurant. This Rotary Club recently celebrated their 75th anniversary and is the oldest club found in Oulu, Finland. The club was extremely welcoming and seemed to enjoy our presentation, especially Chuck’s portion about hockey.
Next, we visited Oulu University Hospital and were hosted by Rotarian Heikki Salumäki-Senior Advisor. The team enjoyed refreshments while learning about the past, present and future of Oulu University Hospital. There is a 15-year vision plan for the expansion of this 900 bed teaching hospital, and the team was able to hear about this as well. We learned about the facility, staff, equipment and other resources that make this hospital run efficiently as the northernmost of five University Hospitals in Finland. This hospital employs a staff of nearly 3000 highly trained professionals, has the capacity to handle the most demanding emergencies and its ICU is one of the best found in Europe. We had a tour of the facility and some of the imaging machines before leaving for our host homes.
Friday was a free day for the team and we were all able to spend it with our host families. Tara, Missy and Kat were able to travel with the Myllylä family to a small town about 20 km from Oulu and visit a well known church in the area. Vilho Myllylä grew up in this area and attended this church as a boy. This church was built in the mid-1700s and was built to replace one that could no longer remain standing. When the decision was made to rebuild, construction began AROUND the original church. They wanted the new church to remain on the same grounds so the current church was built with the original church still inside it. The original church was not torn down until the new church was built entirely around it. It was later that a very talented painter was hired by the community to decorate the interior. The artist took his inspirations from the bible and through numerous individual paintings (on nearly every wall in the church), hoped to educate and inspire any who laid eyes on the art. The artwork inside this church is truly remarkable and unexpected. There are paintings from both the Old and New Testaments and they evoke serious emotions. It is something we had never seen before and were so thankful for this experience. Without our hosts, we would have never known about this wonderful work of art!
After such a wonderful experience in Oulu it was time to say goodbye. We loaded up our luggage on Friday afternoon in front of City Hall, where this part of our journey had begun just last week. We said our difficult goodbyes and were on to the next leg of our adventure-Rokua and the District Conference.
Thank you Oulu for an amazing time, the opportunity to meet more wonderful people, and we hope to visit again someday! Kiitos!

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