Leaving Finland

Lake Jyvasjarvi I have never lived anywhere for 5 months other than Jyvaskyla, Finland. As my Fulbright journey concludes, there is so much to still digest. It will take months, if not years, to truly assimilate all the learning. Before I left Southern California, I wrote about the what I would miss the most from home and what I  looked forward to experiencing in Finland. It is safe to say I met my goals. Top 7 Goals 1. Discussing Education Helsinki Workshop Through professional development programs, Fulbright Finland connected teachers with scholars and researchers, for the purpose of putting inquisitive minds together. The Making Democracies Resilient to Modern Threats seminar provided participants with fascinating research and presentations. 2. Nordic Model Bus station in Espoo What does an efficient and earnest country look like?  It looks like Finland. Yes, people pay higher taxes, but get so much in return. I for one appreciated the well-maintained ro

Getting in Rhythm with Finland

It has been 18 days since I landed in Finland, but it feels like much longer.

Leaving Los Angeles, and leaving my public, urban middle school (what’s up Lions?) I was moving at the speed of 100 miles per hour. Here, I have had the incredible luxury of s l o w i n g  d o w n , as I mentioned in my last post.

Cultural exchanges take time. Time to understand why people live their lives the way they do. Why certain practices exist. Why some values are more important than others. With 18 days under my belt, I am barely scratching the surface, but progress is being made. It comes with understanding phrases spoken to you. Or learning how to pronounce words correctly. Or walking in snow and ice and not biting the dust.

Humorous take on pronunciation of certain Finnish letters

I’m getting used to little to no direct sunlight and am surprised at how much it has affected my mood. In the darkness, you have to push yourself to be active, to make some kind of progress.

Fulbright Finland Alumni Association

Upon arrival in Helsinki this week for my Fulbright Finland Orientation, we were invited to an alumnus gathering at an ice skating rink. At first I was going to stand by the sidelines and just watch, but my wise program director gently encouraged me to give it a go. I did and was so grateful. In no time I felt like my gregarious old self. Exercise does wonders.

Elija Kauppinen, Salla Sissones, and Sanna Leoinonen representing education at the national, municipal, and school level 

Suffice it to say that orientation was magnificent. We had expertly chosen speakers and panels that anticipated and addressed any questions both the Fulbright Teachers and Fulbright Scholars might have. We visited the US Embassy and spent an afternoon at the Design Museum of Helsinki. See my tweets from orientation here.

Today I was able to attend the Educa conference, the largest education conference in Finland. What a treat! Contacts were made with schools and organizations that may be able to shed light on my inquiry focus: outdoor education in schools.

Media Literacy Group

Professional Development for Teachers

Creativity Exhibitor

Cultural Exchange

Cub Scouts in Schools

Dropout Prevention

BUT the highlight of my day was meeting blogger and author Timothy Walker of Taught by Finland. We follow each other on Twitter and connected at the conference that way. What a small world. If you haven’t read his book yet, do yourself a favor, even if you are not a teacher. It gives you a different way to approach parenthood and education.

My heart hurts a little when I see the wonderful things happening in Finnish schools and I remember how my school struggles with so many societal issues. But there is no time for melancholy. I’m here to learn and bring back practices that can heal and strengthen the already brave foundation of my school.

Adelante! Sisu!


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