This is a summary of the article "Appreciating Finland's Togetherness" which appeared in the Fulbright Finland Foundation’s biannual magazine, The News, Issue 76 Vol. 32.
In November 2022, a group of 15 U.S. teachers traveled to Finland for two weeks, visiting different regions and schools to better understand the Finnish ways of life and the values that drive the education system. Throughout activities that took place both in and outside the classroom, the overarching theme of togetherness stood out to the K-12 educators.
Veronica Verzosa, a third grade teacher from California recognized a bond between herself and a Finnish counterpart when she observed similar classroom approaches as her own. After the U.S. teachers’ presentation at the Internationalization Days Conference, Sophia Pelafigue noted, “we all ended the session feeling energized and connected to each other”. Trust between educators and students was also observed, and is described in The Rune of the TGC Teachers, a poem written by three Fulbrighters. Anne Boyette of North Carolina remembers learning about Fulbright Finland’s “Together Shaping the Future” motto. She was touched by the message that everyone leaves a legacy, regardless of what you do, and says “That’s a powerful message for our students as well as us! How much better to work collaboratively for positive change.”
The theme of togetherness was also made apparent in cultural excursions, whether it was taking part in a cooking class at the Martha Organization (a non-profit known for educating the public in home economics) or observing how the Oodi Central Library “brings community, creativity, and literacy together.” While watching a kantele performance, participants noted how an instrument being played by four musicians was a “fitting metaphor for the balance of tradition and innovation.”
Participants not only felt connected to their Finnish counterparts, but also to Fulbright alumni met during a home hospitality visit. The U.S. Fulbright Teachers concluded their program believing the experience “will forever bind us together-as better educators, as better global citizens” and that it was the “first step in our connection with the Fulbright Finland Foundation.”
Read more of "Appreciating Finland's Togetherness" in the Fulbright Finland Foundation’s biannual magazine, The News, Issue 76 Vol. 32.
Read The Rune of the TGC Teachers on the Fulbright Finland Foundation’s website.
Veronica Verzosa, Sophia Pelafigue, and Anne Boyette are alumni of the Fulbright Teachers for Global Classrooms Program 2022, United States to Finland.