Toni Petri Ruotsalainen
Born: Hämeenlinna, Finland
Lived in: Finland, Italy and USA
Major: Studio Art
“Toni,” as he is prefers to be called at Lewis & Clark, was raised in southern Finland, living much of his life in the town of Nokia. (Yes, the home of the famous Nokia cell phone company). When he was 16, he and his Mom moved to the small town of Mouhijärvi where he began high school.
“One day by chance I was watching a show on the television and the secretary of the Finnish United World College (UWC) system began talking about UWC schools,” Toni related. “As soon as I got to school that morning, I went to the director of studies and picked up an application. A few months later I was accepted at the United World College of the Adriatic in Duino, Italy.”
Toni speaks of his experience at UWC of the Adriatic as a life changing experience. “It was definitely a great experience. The campus was very liberal and very diverse. It is a full-scholarship campus so it was not only ethnically diverse, but also economically diverse.” Toni goes on to say, “I learned a lot about myself and about the world at UWC.” Interestingly Toni feels that he is “not a stereotypical Finn” and that his “personal values do not necessarily represent those of Finland.”
Toni chose Lewis & Clark in a rather roundabout way. First of all, his counselor Anne Brearly mentioned the College as a good possibility. “Initially, Lewis & Clark was my second choice,” Toni admits. “But, as I received more and more information about Lewis & Clark, and as I read about it’s international character and its activist nature, I was more interested.” Finally, I received a CD from my first choice school and there was a professor lecturing about the need for the whole world to adopt a US style democracy and political system! That seemed much too provincial and ethnocentric to me. I knew then that I would fit better at Lewis & Clark.
Toni arrived at Lewis & Clark just a few weeks ago, but he is very happy with his choice of schools. “So far it’s pretty much as I expected–except the academics. The academics are awesome. It’s a lot tougher than I expected and I am spending lots of time studying. I’m having to read Virgil–which is not easy–in my Exploration and Discovery class, while trying to balance all of the work in my other courses.”
Toni is also surprised by the feeling of community at Lewis & Clark. “I didn’t expect there to be a feeling of community. UWC of the Adriatic was definitely a community and Lewis & Clark is ten times the size of my high school. But, still I have already made a lot of friends here and people seem to care for each other. It’s quite comfortable.”
“My favorite class thus far is Drawing. One of our early assignments was to go downtown for the ‘First Thursday,’ a monthly event where all of the art galleries are open late in the Pearl District. I went with an American friend I met and we had a blast.”
Toni is confident that he will major in Studio Art, but he is leaving his options open. “I have done a lot of work in art in Finland and in Italy. I love color and I am sometimes impulsive. If one of my collages or mixed media pieces needs some color, I just splash it on.”
Toni’s dream is to support himself through art. “That’s my dream, but I also know that it is difficult to do.” He goes on to say, “I am just starting my college career. Let’s see what happens over the next four years.”