The North Star Project, Summer Report Number Four, Huitennen, Finland
By Kaia Lawton
Huitennen, Finland Report #1
I will preface this with the fact that I am using an iPad on this trip and it doesn't have Word on it so I cannot attach anything in a word doument. I will have to just type everything in the email. I hope that is okay.
I am in Finland for the next two and a half to three months to teach English to Russian speaking students. They are brought over from Russia on a program that lasts two weeks at a time, so we will be teaching six different sections of kids. Their ages will range anywhere from 8 to 18, and they will get older as the summer goes on. Right now I have a class of 11 and they are all 8 to 11 years old. They are at an elementary level of English. I do speak a little Russian, though I am very rusty, and they don't always understand my accent. The language barrier can be tough sometimes, but gestures and drawing helps, as do dictionaries.
As for my surroundings, Finland is beautiful. Everyone seems to know only about Helsinki, the capitol, but I am about three and a half hours north west of the capitol, in Huitennen at the Lansi-Soumen Opisto. Huitennen looks just like Minnesota, just without all of the hillls as it is very flat here. My first day I walked outside and found Lilacs, which remind me of home because we have them growing in our backyard in St. Paul. It's very green here, lots of trees, there is a river out behind the school, and the sky is almost always blue. Of all of the places I have traveled, 11 countries in total, this one feels the most like home. There are some differences. The teachers live in the school, our rooms being through the classroom, in the back, behind a little door that always remains locked, and there is a sauna near the river that we can use any time. Class can only last 45 minutes before the kids get ten to fifteen minute breaks. It's been a while since I was in grade school, so I'm not sure if that is true for the US as well.
For all of the North Star Project Summer Reports, see HERE
The North Star Project: Collaboration between The Middle Ground Journal Student Interns, The College of St. Scholastica, and North Star Academy 8th Grade Global Studies Classes, 2013-2014 School Year Summer Reports.
Under the leadership of our North Star host teachers and student interns, The North Star Project has flourished for two years. For a brief summary, please see a recent article in the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:
This summer we will re-tool and re-design the collaborative program, drawing on the experience of our veteran student interns, ideas from our host teachers, and new projects provided by our incoming student interns. This summer The Middle Ground Journal will share brief dispatches from our North Star Project student interns, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. As of the time of this report we have confirmed student interns who will be reporting from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, northeastern China, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing presentations on theatrical representations of historical trauma, historical memory, the price individuals pay during tragic global conflicts, and different perceptions of current events from around the world. We will post their brief dispatches here throughout the summer, and report on their interactions with the North Star students and teachers throughout the school year.
Hong-Ming Liang, Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, USA, June, 2013
(c) 2013 The Middle Ground Journal, Number 6, Spring, 2013. See Submission Guidelines page for the journal's not-for-profit educational open-access policy.