Monday, December 7, 2009

Independence Day for Finland

December 6th was the Finnish Independence Day... a day that I missed while in Copenhagen. Yet, for this city of Helsinki as its was a grand day of concerts, events, and an official formal gala with the president and key officials with a major ball and other recognized formalities on the TV. Finland received its independence in about 1917... not yet a hundred years. If you were here, you would continue to hear of its domination for many centuries by Sweden, and its recent issues with Russia. I had not realized that part of its territory - Karelia- was taken or given to Russia with the war...and that they still grieve over the loss. Many of the original Karelians had the opportunity and often have come to Finland because of the poitical and financial issues facing Russia. How little I know of the many problems faced by other countries and peoples... how fortunate we are to not have experienced the ongoing issues of war amongst neighbors.
So, toss you hat for the Finnish Independence Day!!!

Hopenhagen and Climate Change

This weekend I visited Copenhagen and Lis Hemmingsen of the Danish School of Education. Of course, it was also the site for the upcoming World Conference on Climate Change. The airport was a place of a number of sites to meet delegates, as well as many varied posters and statements on issues of the climate. But, the inner city also was an amazing display of huge displays (lighted for viewing at night) with pictures and English phrases regarding aspects of the environment, such as a polar bear and the loss of ice in the Artic. There was a gigantic inflated globe of the world, display tents from various organizations, such as the World Wildlife Federation, and most curiously a huge ice carving of a polar bear. There were many posters with key leaders and the phrase that in the year of 2020 they could have made a decision to change the world climate situation at this conference. Did they want to be held accountable for the loss? It had an amazing impact upon me and I suspect others.
Of equal fascination were the displays from the city. There were also posters and displays on buses of the words... “Hopenhagen” This was a subtle, but clear concern that Copenhagen could be the place of hope for a better future for climate policy. It was fascinating to think about all of the 15,000 delegates to the conference, as well as the city of Copenhagen and its many tourists…all focused upon climate change and the future of the world. How do we learn and communicate our desires for this future? It may be a valued experience to host this type of conference (although there are concerns for protest riots and for the general chaos of huge numbers of individuals. Clearly Denmark was actively engaged in the dialogue with the conference. What would a USA city have done in these same circumstances?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Learning of Professionals in the Project

For the past two days, I have offered lectures and instructional facilitation for a group of teachers of further education, (this means faculty who work in polytechnics – professional programs that are application-oriented). This group works with the Collaborative Intensity project based in Metropolia College and the project I am providing Fulbright support. I provided dialogue and stimulus lectures/discussion about their work in the project start-up. They are developing partnerships with various public and private organizations to integrate their academic programs and instruction with the work life of that organization. For example, about half of the individuals work with health care programs, so they are working with hospitals and municipal health care services to identify ways to integrate with them through practical involvements of their students, research projects, and other possibilities.
I found the group to be intently engaged, but reticent to speak during our time together. They suggested that it was the Finnish way. So, the next day, they were both more responsive, but I had also structured more exercises for them to brainstorm and share beyond my discussions of communities of practice, the inclusion of adult students with young students, and the initial development of partnerships. I am always amazed at the ability of other individuals who are not native English speakers to listen, understand, and speak in English. These folks were amazing as they struggled sometimes with locating a technical English word for their Finnish activities. I also found them to appreciate the sharing of their past work at integration with their colleagues. I would hope these experiences have a positive impact on their future work.