Finlandia was founded in 1896 as Suomi College by Finnish immigrants, but its heritage extends hundreds of years before that. The Finns developed an attitude of sisu or persistence and determination during the early years of their country's formation. They brought sisu with them to help them thrive in a new land. It was with this steadfast attitude that Finlandia University was established.
To the Finnish people, sisu has a mystical, almost magical meaning. Sisu (pronounced - see'-soo) is a unique Finnish concept. It is a Finnish term that can be roughly translated into English as strength of will, determination, perseverance, and acting rationally in the face of adversity.
Sisu is not momentary courage, but the ability to sustain that courage. It is a word that cannot be fully translated. It defines the Finnish people and their character. It stands for the philosophy that what must be done will be done, regardless of cost.
Sisu is an inherent characteristic of the Finnish people. You might call it backbone, spunk, stamina, guts, or drive and perseverance. It is a measure of integrity that surpasses the hardship and sees through to the end.
Sisu has sustained the Finns in fighting forty-two wars with Russia and losing every one. It’s the quality that lets them laugh at themselves in the face of disaster. It’s the hard-jawed integrity that makes them pay their war debts in full. In short, it’s the indomitable will that sets Finns apart and explains many of the incredible things they do.
Due to its cultural significance, Sisu is a common element of brand names in Finland. For example, there are Sisu brand cars (and Sisu armored vehicles), the icebreaker MS Sisu, and a brand of strong-tasting pastilles manufactured by Leaf. Mount Sisu is the name of a mountain first ascended by mountain climber Veikka Gustafsson in the Antarctic.