|Title||Dreams Come True|
Ms Hannele Puolakka/Teacher at Lappeenrannan Lyseon Lukio, Finland
|Venue||Meera Bagh, India|
Three years ago I participated in the ASEF ClassNet project “Language – A Mantle of Communication” and I made friends with the project coordinator Ms Anjali Handa. One day during the project I told her how wonderful it would be if she could come with her students to Lappeenranta, Finland. “Why not, yes it would be interesting”, she answered. And so it happened. We had a group of students and Ms Handa for one wonderful week in my school Lappeenrannan Lyseon lukio. We received a return call to visit St. Mark’s Girls Senior Secondary School. I wrote an application to Finnish National Agency for Education but I was almost sure it is not possible to get money for this. But as Walt Disney has said, “All our dreams come true, if we have the courage to pursue them”. We were very lucky and got the money.
We, 8 students and teacher from Lappeenrannan Lyseon lukio visited St. Mark’s Girls Senior Secondary School in New Delhi from 22 to 29 January 2017. The idea in this cultural exchange was to observe and learn the culture and tradition of each other, share knowledge in curricular and co-curricular activities besides exchanging ideas and expertise on each other’s educational system.
On the first day, there was a Traditional Indian Welcome in the school. That included receiving a garland of flowers and a red dot between the eyes. It was quite a new experience to my students. During the week we had several lessons and workshops with our Indian friends in English, Maths, Physics, Sport, History, Music, Dance and Art. We also attended a Yoga session. In Finland, we don’t have Yoga in our P.E. programme but after this session, we realised that it is an excellent form of physical exercise and also stress relief. In Paper Recycling workshop we learned how to make paper on recycling machine. After that, we had an excellent possibility to make hand -made sheets. We also had a Cooking Together workshop. Our Indian partners fried puris, which is one of the many Indian breads. The Finnish students baked Karelian pies with egg butter. This pie has Traditional Speciality Guaranteed status in Europe.
In our cultural programme in New Delhi, we had several sights. Qutub complex, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site and Qutub Minar which is the world’s tallest brick minaret and a beautiful example of Indo-Islamic architecture. The Lotus Temple, a Bahá’í House of Worship, which is notable for its flowerlike shape. We visited also many Hindu and Sikh temples which were interesting too. In Finland, we have the subject Religion in our curriculum and one course is World religions. For my students, these excursions were very educational moments to see another kind of religious traditions. New Delhi is a fascinating and mind blowing city. A rainbow of colours, smells, sounds and spices. It’s both modern and traditional, chaotic (traffic) and serene.
We also had a real surprise waiting for us: Ms Handa had arranged us a visit to Embassy of Finland in New Delhi. There we had interactive sessions with Nina Vaskunlahti, Ambassador of Finland and SuviTuominen, Second Secretary of political and Cultural Affairs. We also had a one-day excursion to Agra to see the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort. Poet Tagore has described Taj Mahal as a teardrop on the cheek of eternity. We agree it is.
During our stay, on 26 January was Republic Day which honours the date on which the Constitution of India came into force 1950. We had the honour to follow the Republic Day Celebration at school.
After school days we had a lot of another kind of activities. As you can guess my students had a possibility to get a henna tattoo and wear a saree. So beautiful and so different! Some of our students were lucky to go a wedding. Afterwards, they told it was a musical, spiritual and culinary extravaganza. Host students also arranged a surprise: Holi event. They had bought coloured powder and girls threw it on each other until they became almost unrecognisable. Really fun!
This exchange programme was diverse and enriching. All the teachers, students and host families were so helpful and friendly. It was very educational to discuss with Principal Sheena Kalenga, teachers and students about everyday life in an Indian school. Especially I want to mention Indian students’ very positive attitude, joy, to go to school. This is one of many things what we can learn from our Indian friends.
After this cultural exchange programme teachers in Lappeenrannan Lyseon lukio would like to continue collaboration and networking with St. Mark’s Girls senior secondary school and strengthen the ties that exist between Finland and India. There are also many teachers in Lappeenranta who are interested in this kind of activities and they are ready to join in AEC-Net networking.
Our special thanks to Ms Anjali Handa who made all the arrangements and worked hard the whole week, and to the ASEF Classroom Network for giving us this opportunity to work together. Our thanks also to Finnish National Agency for Education for the grant which made this week possible.
We had a wonderful week!