“I remember standing in the yard of Gowanbank, Scotland with my two oversized suitcases. I should’ve known better and not to bring so much with me. In Gowanbank everyone’s in a hurry, except me. Then a guy from Belarus offers to show me around the place. The same guy tells later that Scottish accent is like noise to him sometimes. Then I meet the first Scotsman in my life, kinda William Wallace-looking guy and after second time I can’t understand what he says, I give up and just say yeah. Noise. I begin to smile and I remember a joke from Robin Williams: ‘Go drink with the Scotsmen because you can’t understand them before’. My linguistic and other kind of adventure was now set to begin. I was in Scotland and I was happy.

“The actual work was simple and fun labor work: planting trees, fixing greenhouse and repairing a road. Just perfect work to get rid off for a while from my studies. And the people, that was of course the salt of everything. To a shy guy who has never even travelled alone before, it was almost surreal to sit in a dinner table and have conversation about the state of the world with people coming from Australia, Switzerland, Hungary, Holland and Germany. I would rank those conversations as one of the brightest highlights of the work camp. To see how similar things really worry all of us, despite where we come from. All laughing to the same jokes, trying to get a statement made. Someone is looking strange word up from dictionary but we all participate. Two weeks went fast, sadly. I would’ve like to stay even longer with these people.

“We were a small group, only six volunteers, so we got along fine. In a small portion we proved that understanding people is possible and maybe our generation can make a difference. Even more so when you play a Finnish game called Mölkky. It’s like bowling but nowhere near bowling really. It proved out to be a great game to weld the group together and spread the message of peace to the world! There’s a slogan for you to export the game.

“Ignorance is not a bliss. That is one reason to cause all prejudice and hatred in the world. For example, I originally come from a small town called Toijala, Finland. I’ve seen the main road of that town millions of times. There are many people who have never really seen anything but that. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course not. The wrong comes to the picture when you start to defend that road or any road with intolerance towards all the different people. It so easily slips into that. Perspective disappears and every stranger is potent threat. Nationalism, even in a small portion, is not good. Go and see beyond that main road of your hometowns and if you can go to see roads in different countries and find a peaceful place to play Mölkky.”

Aki Laurokari