Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Writing on Finland

Another group of students wrote papers on Finnish nature and our heritage. You can find them in the comments - section.
- Anja Moilanen

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Haukipudas High School & Medina High School Student Exchange

Thirteen students and three teachers of Haukipudas High School were honored to have a thrilling opportunity to visit Medina High School for one and a half weeks in October 2009. The trip was a success. Not only did our students get a glimpse of the everyday school life in the USA and to live with an American host family, but also to feel the culture of an altogether new nation. And this time it was not the superficial and dazzling world of the American series shown on our TV, but the reality of life with its upsides and downsides on the streets and subways of Chelsea and Manhattan in New York City, in the farms of Berlin in the Amish Country, Ohio, and in the houses of a typical small-sized American city, Medina, in Midwest USA. The highlights of our trip also included the Musical Hair on Broadway and the NHL ice hockey match in Madison Square Garden, New York City, as well as the NBA basketball match at the Q-Arena and the musical history tour in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland. We are extremely grateful for all the wonderful and hospitable American host families who made the exchange possible, and hope to see them again in Finland or in the USA in the very near future. Please let’s keep in touch and cherish our friendship in the years to come!

As a continuance for our Finnish-American collaboration, the teachers and the administration at both ends agreed to launch a student exchange program between our high schools. Our students are warmly welcome to participate in the program as an exchange student/a host family for an American/Finnish student in Ohio/Haukipudas for a couple of weeks to three months. Trustworthy and suitable families as well as interesting and beneficial course schedules will be provided by the schools. We are sure the experience will enrich and inspire our students, strengthen their global communication skills as well as offer them specialized knowledge on the American and Finnish culture and beliefs. (For more information, please contact Ms. Tiina Mustakangas at Haukipudas High School or Mr. Robert Thompson at Medina High School.)

Another success on our trip to the USA was that the Student exchange was not the only project agreed on. Medina High School is now an active partner in our Messages Across Three Continents project and will participate in assisting our partner school in Dar es Salaam. Hooray! There is also a serious attempt to meet in Tanzania in 2012...

Tiina Mustakangas & Anja Moilanen

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Days of our lives

One English writing class had an assignment to write about their life so that young people in other cultures could get a glimpse into their ordinary day. Below are a few of their essays but you'll find many more good ones in the comments section.

An ordinary school day
On weekdays I wake up typically at 7 am when my phone alarms. Usually I feel really tired, because I tend to go to bed quite late. That’s why I need a cup of coffee to get my mornings going. A newspaper is also an important part of my mornings, as I want to know what is happening around the world. After my morning routines I notice how late I am, so I grab my bike and rush to the school.

At 8 o’clock lessons start. Normally I have about four 75-minute-lessons per day, and between them we get little pauses which I spend with my friends. In the middle of the day we have a lunch break. In Finland we get a free meal every day, which is really uncommon in other countries.

When I finally get home, I relax with my friends. Sometimes we go shopping or to the movies, but usually we don’t do anything special, go to cafés or just chill. Sports is another big part of my everyday life. Running is my passion and I go jogging four times a week and in addition, I go to the gym.

In the evening my mom and dad prepare the dinner. We eat in tranquility and share the day's events. Later I might watch TV or chat with my friends on the Internet before setting the alarm to wake me up at 7 am, like always, and going to bed.
- by Sallamari

An ordinary day
In Finland our days begin usually so that parents go to work and we youngsters go to school. Of course, it is different when it is weekend or some holiday. Our school days are around 5-6 hours long. When the school day is over, we go home and perhaps we do our homework or watch TV.

We have plenty opportunity to choose if we want some hobby. The most favoured hobbies are ice hockey and football. If you take seriously that hobby and want to win contest, your all spare time goes with it. Here we take pretty seriously what we do. So, our evenings go with hobbies or if there is no hobby, we meet our friends, sit in front of a computer and do lots of other things.

At the weekends we want just to relax and have fun. Here you can see that when the weekend comes, people come out from their hides and go out to party. It is usual too that underaged kids drink too. That is one problem in our society.

Finland is a beautiful and colourful country. It is our paradise even if we have in winters over –25°C.
- by Heini

Ordinary day after school
Restlessness and sweating. Nothing comes to my mind. Neither the possibility to use the Internet nor a hot day make concentrating easier.

Almost every family has a computer and Internet in Finland. Despite the fact that it is an easy way to take contact, it has increased the time we spend at computer which means less time outside with friends, of course. I am sitting at a computer too, writing this text and dreaming of being outside. In fact, school work takes a big slice of free time, although we Finns do not use computer always for working and it is not rare to find yourself surfing in the internet. School things are not problem on rainy day, but now the sun is shining and it is not hard to decide, which is funnier, playing floorball on the street or get mad inside.

However, I have time for friends, at least when I have an easy period in school. In our school periods change about in every two months. That means the subjects as well as the length of days might change, depending on how you have designed your time table.

To conclude, I do not mean I spend every single day doing the same things. This is just a little piece of my life. If I had told everything I do, you would not have read even this far. Now I get to the place I have praised all the time, maybe you should get your bottoms off a chair and get outside too.
- by Sami

My unusual school morning
Normally I wake up every school day around eight, usually at the sound of my alarm-clock. Then I take a shower, eat breakfast, feed my dog and go to school by bus.

This morning was entirely unlike my usual morning. Firstly, I woke up because the sun was shining in my eyes and I heard the song of birds. I didn’t know what time it was because my clock had stopped during the night, so I got up. I went downstairs and wondered why my mum, dad or little brother weren’t there. My parents have to go to work around seven, because of the distance. Then I watched the wall clock, I couldn’t believe it, it was only half past five.

I had already got up so I didn’t want to go back to sleep, I decided to enjoy a cup of coffee and read a newspaper. What a great start for the school day, I thought.
- by Julia

A usual Finnish girl’s day
On school days I usually wake up at 06:45 in order to read the newspaper and eat breakfast without a rush. After doing my morning routines, I decide what to wear, my outfit represents in which mood I am, and maybe put some make up.

Fortunately I live near the school so it takes only five minutes by bike. I like school very much, thanks to my friends with whom the days won’t feel too long. A normal school day lasts from eight to two, but in this period, I have many free lessons during the week so, for example on Friday, I have school for only one 75-minute lesson. When the school day ends, I go home or meet some of my friends and we spend the afternoon together.

Our family gathers together round five o’clock to have dinner and during that everyone tells about his or her day and after that I go to the gym or jogging, except if I am feeling particularly lazy. In that case I might invite some friends to visit. In the evening I relax and maybe watch TV and by eleven I’m feeling tired enough to go to sleep.
- by Venla

An ordinary day
Now at the age of seventeen it is pretty much up to me to wake to school at mornings, and almost invariably I do so. At the same time I know that if I would start to skip my duties like that, my mom would scold me and bring me back to my senses again. So I wake up an hour before school starts, usually tired as ever, take a shower, eat some bread or fruit for breakfast if I find time and bike to the bus stop and head to school by bus.

The classes last for 75 minutes, which is pretty much enough to learn something and not too long to frustrate the students. The breaks last for 15 minutes and at them we just sit around or, if it is warm, go to the yard to stand in the sun, and discuss topics we have on mind. The lunch provided to us at midday is the highlight of the day. Then, the time depending on our personal timetables, we get out of school and head back home, some by bus, some by foot, bike, car or other motor vehicles.

At home I am usually already tired and just switch on the computer and surf and chat with my friends there or just read a book, but at weekends I go out with friends. We keep ourselves out of trouble and get home by night.
- by Jonna

An ordinary day at school
I wake up in the morning and then I have to go to the school. In Finland, we go to school every weekday. I go to school by bus because my way to school is pretty long, 10 kilometers.

Our school is small but it is also cosy. Usually my schooldays start at 8.00 or 9.30 am and they finish at 2.15 or 3.30 pm. Sometimes I have a free lesson and then I do my homework, but if I have nothing to do, I surf on the Internet.

Our lessons are 75 minutes and between them we have got four breaks and they take 15 minutes. We have also a lunch break at 11.40am and it is a little bit longer than normal breaks. In my opinion, attending school is good for me and despite the exams and exam week, I really like it! I meet my friends in the school every day and that is great!
- by Marika

One day of my life
I wake up early at 7am. First I wear my jeans and shirt and then I go to eat breakfast, porridge, an apple and some bread. After eating, I brush my teeth and fill my schoolbag with books. As soon as I am ready, I jump in to my car and drive to school. When I arrive at school yard it is almost 8am. I spend about 6 hours at school studying history, mathematics, Finnish language, English and biology. Of course, we eat lunch at school. Since I have worked hard in classes I can happily drive back home.

At home I eat some snack and rest a little watching my favourite recorded TV-programs or sleep a while. I have football training coming on so I got to prepare for them. I take my shoes, a ball and a water bottle with me. Again I take the car and drive to training. Even though football takes lots of time and it’s hard, I love it and will never give it up. After half an hour swetting I am hungry and happy. It is time to get shower. Because I am starving, my mother has made something good for me. I eat it with pleasure.

Homework is waiting but I want to talk with my friends and play before that, so I switch on my computer. I spend an hour or couple in front of computer. However, I have to do my homework. When I am ready with it, I spend the rest of my evening with family, watching television and reading. At about 11pm I fall into bed.
- by Jaakko

Sunday, April 19, 2009


Over this spring we established a new contact. We are happy to include Jangwani Secondary School in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in our network.

Jangwani Secondary School is among the oldest schools in Tanzania. It was started on May 28th, 1928, in the colonial times when Tanzania was under British rule. It was formerly an Indian School admitting Indian students only. Later on, after Tanzania got its independence, all schools were transferred from the hands of private owners to the government.

There are three government girl schools in Dar es Salaam city. Jangwani Secondary School is one of them. It has 1500 students.

Students that study the Advanced Level take
PCB-Physics, Chemistry and Biology
CBN-Chemistry, Biology and Nutrition
EGM-Economics, Geography and Mathematics
HGE-History, Geography and Economics
HKL-History, Kiswahili and English language.

The school has 120 teachers and 35 members of non-teaching staff. It is a double session school as it has boarding students and day students. The school also takes disabled students. There are almost 400 students who are orphans. They have lost their parents (HIV, AIDS) and thus need financial assistance.

One difficult problem that this school has is the lack of an Internet connection. Getting one takes a lot of money but hopefully Haukipudas Upper Secondary School can help our friends in Tanzania with that issue in the near future.

- by John Bosco (Tanzania) and Anja Moilanen (Finland)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

New events

New groups of students are writing poems related to the UN Millennium Development Goals. You can read them under old posts (2008, Poetry).

We have also sent a big envelope to Tanzania containing papers written by our students. The topics varied from Finnish nature to our UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Let's hope our friends in Dar es Salaam learn something new about us and our country. They also received a wonderful calendar that our students made in the autumn. The general theme was to make a picture related to the UN Millennium Goals.
You can see in some of the pictures how students really feel that the rich North is too selfish. The calendar was then sold to raise money for our international projects.

-by Anja M.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Barack Obama and US's foreign assistance

In the following President-elect Barack Obama's statement describing his team's vision of US's foreign assistance programs:

Campaign Commitments on Development


President-elect Obama committed to making the Millennium Development Goals American policy. By the end of my first term, he expects to see progress to meeting the MDGs, including reducing by half the number of people living on less than a dollar a day and suffering from hunger, and reversing the number of new HIV infections and malaria cases.

He committed to doubling U.S. foreign assistance, to $50 billion by 2012. In the wake of the economic crisis, Senator Obama and Senator Biden said on several occasions that they would “slow down” achieving this goal, though they have not at any point said that it is no longer a goal.

Obama pledged to expand the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) by adding at least $1 billion a year in new money and was a cosponsor of the reauthorization bill. He supported increasing funding for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria and a willingness to remove the 33% cap on U.S. contributions.

He would establish “Health Infrastructure 2020” to work with developing countries to invest in the full range of infrastructure needed to improve and protect both American and global health. He pledged to increase funding for child and maternal health and ensure that increases in other important areas - including HIV/AIDS - do not come at the expense of child health and survival programs. He would expand access to vaccinations, increase research into new vaccines, and expand access to reproductive health programs.

He supports the goal of ending deaths from malaria by 2015 by building on the $1billion per year commitment to malaria in the recent PEPFAR reauthorization and dramatically expanding access to mosquito nets and access to ACTs.

He would expand access to clean water and sanitation through increased funding of up to $1.3b annually and support for innovative programs like 'play pumps'.

Obama plans to capitalize a “Global Education Fund” with at least $2 billion in funding towards the goal of universal access and would leverage this funding through the World Bank’s Fast Track Initiative. He supports passage of the Education For All Act.

Aid Reform
Obama will look at creating a cabinet-level position for development aid. He committed to coordinate and consolidate PEPFAR, the federal Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), and other foreign assistance programs into a streamlined U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

Debt Cancellation
He committed to fully funding debt cancellation for Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC), pressing for reforms at the World Bank to ensure that poor countries receive grants rather than loans, and leading a multilateral effort to address the issue of “odious debt.”

Obama pledged to provide initial capital for a Small and Medium Enterprises Fund (SMEs) that would be administered through the federal Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC).

Obama committed to launch the “Add Value to Agriculture Initiative” to spur research and innovation in this area.

Add Value to Agriculture Initiative (AVTA). Agriculture provides a livelihood for the majority of the world’s poor, and it is the sector that will be hardest hit by climate change. In order to increase the incomes of subsistence producers, decrease the pressure on shrinking arable lands, and minimize the vulnerability of commodity exports to global price shocks, an Obama administration will launch the AVTA Initiative. Barack Obama and Joe Biden are committed to spurring research and innovation aimed at bringing about a Green Revolution for Africa, by partnering with land grant institutions, private philanthropies and business to support agricultural processing through increased investment in research and development for improved seeds, irrigation methods, and affordable and safe fertilizers. They will also make critical investments in providing the package of tools needed to allow poor farmers to succeed in the agricultural market, including by providing training in regulation and quality control standards and by increasing finance and financing instruments for rural enterprises as well as access to markets.

What is your opinion about Barack Obama's approach to US's foreign assistance? Do you think it will be possible to meet these goals during his leadership? What is the general attitude of the US Citizens towards foreign assistance?

By Tiina Mustakangas