Palpasa Shrestha and Sushmita Kunwar, our two exchange students at DIAK University Finland, share about their first few weeks in Helsinki
We started our course on 22August, Monday with 15 other Finnish and International Students. We will be doing Community, empowerment and participation (CEP) course for this semester worth of 30 Credits. Marianne Nylund is our responsible teacher for this semester and has been providing enormous amount of help and support to us. There are 4 courses within CEP but since we will not be doing our thesis here in Finland, we will be taking two theoretical courses and a practical placement.
Along with attending our regular classes we have also tried to explore the city of Helsinki on our own. Finnish and Swedish is the national language in Finland and most of the texts are in those two languages which make it a little difficult for us to find directions or shop in a grocery store. However, our flat mate Hannah has been guiding us time and again in case of such problems. On Saturday, Noora, our Finnish tutor invited us to her home town in Kirkkonummi so we could observe “Kirkkonummi Day” which is a small festival where all local people gather and open up small shops. Noora invited us to her home where we watched a movie before departing.
At the beginning of our second week, we went for a field visit which was specifically focused on Family Group Conference. The overall presentation shown during the field visit was remarkable. We learned the phases of the family conference and how the agency acts as a mediator between children and their parents. After the visit, all the students must make a learning diary about the field visit. As September 21is approaching very soon, all the team members are working very hard for the Diak Learning Festival. Palpasa is in the media team whereas I am in the Feedback Team. It is very surprising that people here start to work a month before any event. This is something that can be used while we are conducting any future events in St. Xavier’s College. Teamwork and Effective planning will surely lead this event towards success.
During the second week, we also went to different places for a visit. To watch a perfect sunset, our flat mate took us to the Regatta Café which is very famous for its coffee and hot chocolate. After that, we went to watch Sibelius Monument which was made out of more than 600 steel pipes. This monument was dedicated to the famous Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. Next day, we went to visit the Helsinki City Museum. The Museum tells the history of the city through the favourite places and stories of the Helsinki residents.
We are having a wonderful time here in Helsinki. Meeting new people, learning about their culture and food is amusing at times. We are so grateful for the opportunity of being selected for this program and we promise to do our best to meet the expectations that have been set for us.
Palpasa and Sushmita
04 September 2016
School Day Learning Festival
School Day Learning Festival, which took place on September 21wasa means of recreation for all the students and at the same time, a platform to learn and experience the rich diversity around the globe. Themain idea of the event was that anyone can teach and anyone can learn.
As I (Sushmita) was in the feedback team, I got many opportunities to watch and even take part in most of the workshop. I took part in workshops like Salsa Dance, Clothing from Ghana, How to prepare Vegan food without Kitchen, Making postcards, Italian Language workshop and many more. As my main goal was to collect feedback from the participants, I informally got into conversation with many of the students. This was a new way of making connection with new people and people were friendly enough to share their opinions and fill up the questionnaires sheet.
-Mask Workshop- This workshop was a way of finding out who you really are. You are given to paint a blank mask with different colors and glitters. You can paint the mask according to your desire. The mask will thus reflect your thinking, your motives and the hidden self. I found this a very intellectual way to find out the hidden self. In addition, making all the participants to paint their own mask was fun and challenging at the same time.
-Clothing from Ghana Workshop: This workshop was totally new for me as it was related to Ghana and I was unaware about this country. The lady who took this workshop provided new and fresh insights about the clothing from Ghana. I realized that clothing not only represents their culture but it is a source of pride for them. The workshop not only provided the theoretical background but we as participants were given an opportunity to try the traditional clothes from Ghana. But almost all the participants were black people who made me realize that white people are not much interested in knowing about Ghana or being a part of their culture. This is just my assumption of course.
Overall, the Learning Festival turned out to be a remarkable event and our teachers were very impressed with the organizing team.
Palpasa and Sushmita from Helsinki, Finland
26 September 2016
From Helsinki, Finland:
It has been a week since we have joined our placement and by far, we having been learning and enjoying at the same time. Due to the language barrier and time allocated for our placement, it was difficult to find a placement that was suitable for us. Sami contacted the teacher of his daughter’s preschool for us to work in for few weeks and fortunately, they welcomed us.
Esikoulu Kaneli is a preschool for children under 7 years, the age when most Finnish children start in Grade 1. We have 20 boys and girls in our classroom with 3 other responsible teachers and assistants. Majority of the children are Finnish with a considerable number of Asian and African children. Parents usually drop them off around 8 am to 9 am and leave for work. They start their day in preschool with breakfast and indoor games. Everyday a new lesson is taught to students which necessarily does not include the use of book and copies. The teachers use a lot of game materials to educate children and the children seem to grasp it easily. A healthy meal is provided to the children, which energizes them for outdoor play. It was very surprising to see that no matter the weather, the children are always allowed to play outdoors. Since, it started snowing in the first week of our placement itself; we join the children in the snow and play along with them. Finnish education system believes that letting children play outdoors is more effective than classroom lectures and we think that it is true. Children as young as 6 year olds have amazing problem solving skills. They run around free in the playground and involve themselves in any games and if they come across any difficulties, they find ways to solve them.
Since, most of the children are not used to English language, it was very difficult for us to understand them and interact with them. But, as I mentioned about the problem solving skills, the children were eager to reduce the language barrier than we were and came up with so many alternatives. For the first few days, they kept on talking with us in Finnish, thinking we understand it but, later when they understood our problem with the language, they asked their teachers to translate it for us. Few children also learned Basic English words to interact with us and a few use their facial expressions and gestures. It is very easy for us to interact now and even the preschool teachers are amazed by the relationship established between the children and us in such a short time.
Yesterday, we gave a presentation to all the children from the pre-school about Nepal. It was a very challenging activity for us because the kids cannot understand English. We made a power point presentation about the basic facts that defines Nepal and included many pictures to make it interesting for the kids. Katja, our field supervisor translated as we started our presentation in English. Many kids were shocked when they saw how cows are worshipped in Nepal. Many things about Nepal caught their attention and therefore, they started asking questions about our country. Even though, we had a tough time giving the presentation to all the kids, it was a fine one.
Sushmita and Palpasa
Exchange Students at DIAK, Helsinki, Finland