The Little Things: Watching small children slide down a snowy hill
Yesterday I was on my way to the library. There's a sweet little path that takes me past a small park where moms, dads, and toddlers spend a morning or afternoon. Today, there were a few kiddos shoveling snow while another few were ice skating on the little ice rink frozen over what looks likes a little basketball court (I'll let you know for sure after The Thaw.) Yesterday, there was a little class of children - they must have been 4-5 years old - all were wearing reflective vests signifying their out-of-school experience. I stopped to watch the children climb up up up what I consider to be a rather steep, high hill. Then one-by-one they would position themselves at the top of a worn swatch of snow. Bum to snow and off they go - down down down -- they were really flying! -- and just when I thought surely they would slide over the bank of snow and into the parking lot, their mittened-hands spread out, tempering speed with friction. This was a nice addition to the 'usual' sights I've been taking in like the pine trees. The blue skies. The falling snow. The white snow. The yellow snow.
It was a happy way to start the morning.
The Little Things: Albuquerque, New Mexico is in the United States
Today I met a bright, charming young Finn. He is studying for his Matriculation exams and hoping to study marketing/ PR and to work internationally. He's fluent in 3-languages and has a fourth in the wings. He asked where in the United States I live.
Jen: New Mexico.
Charming Young Finn: (smile spreads across his face) Really?
Jen: Yes, do you know it?
Charming Young Finn: Do you live in Albuquerque?
Jen: I do! How do you know Albuquerque?
Charming Young Finn: From Breaking Bad!
Of course! Thank you, Breaking Bad, for establishing that Albuquerque is in New Mexico which is in the United States (there are too many Americans that are not aware that NM is, in fact, part of the United States. I've met some of them who have marveled at my impressive American accent.)
Charming Young Finn explained how he downloaded all seasons of the show and in between studying for his exams, he would watch an episode that turned into watching another and another and another. I had the opportunity to teach him the word and concept of "Binge-Watching."
The Little Things: A Night at the Symphony
Jyväskylä has a symphony which is quite an accomplishment for a city of around 100,000. I had the opportunity to go hear them play on Wednesday night. They were performing movie music and scores from "In the Mood" to "The Hulk" and I kept marveling at how I was in Finland listening to music from American movies.
The Little Things: Puzzles and Bones
Sarah and I have fallen into a comfortable, comforting evening rhythm: After dinner and after the dishes are done, we watch the TV show Bones while we work on a puzzle. Last night we finished our first puzzle; tonight we bought our second. I like this little ritual we've established. And, man, Sarah's good at puzzles. I am visually-spatially challenged and puzzles puzzle me. If we're ambitious and if Sarah doesn't have an early morning, we live on the wild side and stay up to see Castle.
The Little Things: 3:00 Pie
Today I did some work in a café and I am inspired - inspired! - by the people of all ages who step inside for a coffee and pie. Or pastry. Or both. At 3pm. I especially like to see the chic, lovely women, sitting with a friend or sitting alone with a slice of something decadent that is not consumed in haste, but with appreciation.
The Little Things: Research Project Progress
I'm making connections and my calendar is starting to fill up with classroom observations, meetings, university courses, and lessons to teach at the high school and college level. I'm digging deep into the literature about global citizenship and global education and into the Finnish National Curriculum. Rereading some resources and finding new literature while I'm seeing and hearing facets of Finnish culture and system of eduction has been inspiring and I feel creativity and inquiry percolating. It feels so good. At the same time, it feels fragile - I want to hit a stride and maintain the momentum to successfully put together my Capstone Project.
The Little Things: A Little Thing that is a Big Thing to Me
Oh. The ice.
The Little Things: Learning
I have no sweeping pronouncements about Finland. I have no sweeping pronouncements about anything (except the ice.)
My learning is not happening from sonic-boom experiences, but from daily encounters, conversations, observations, and realizations. I like this pace of learning - steady and strong, profound and subtle, sincere and relevant.
And a little admission... I had some not-so-little-experiences in my professional life in the weeks before coming to Finland. I'll write about them in due time. Or maybe not. We'll see. I came feeling quite uprooted. It's at night, when I'm in bed, that this severed state washes over me. I have abandoned dramatic and mystery novels and acclaimed, 'important' fiction I had downloaded for my nightly reading pleasure and have been reading, of all things, Anne of Green Gables. I read the series when I was in junior high school, and I have been comforted by the innocence and hopefulness, even though I cried and cried, again, when Matthew died. This quieter, gentler space has allowed me to breathe and to open and peek out from my the shelter into which I had retreated.
Last night I dreamed about the Northern Lights. I think it is a good sign.
You can read my capstone project - Global Learning: Fostering knowledge, attitudes and skills for global citizenship - here
This blog represents my point of view only and is not associated with the U.S. State Department or the Fulbright Program.