Comenius Lifelong Learning Project
Comenius Visit To Roinila Centre, Finland
23rd- 28th March 2014
Sunday 23 March 2014
On our way to Finland
We left from Dusseldorf airport early on Sunday. Everything went well and we had a quite enjoyable journey. The flight took us to Helsinki first, where we arrived at midday. When boarding for our connection flight to Kajaani started, we met our partner teachers and students from Poland and Turkey. So we continued our journey together, which was much more fun. The flight to Kajaani on a small propeller-driven aircraft was quickly over and for the remaining 200 kilometres to Suomussalmi, our final destination, we shared a taxi bus. By that time it was already getting dark but we could still see a bit of the landscape through which our travel took us. Although we had been told before our travel to Finland that the winter had been much milder than usual everything as far as we could see everything was deeply covered in snow. Only the trees were not covered in snow. It was a pity we didn’t see any reindeers or elks, but some of us spotted an arctic hare crossing the road in the flashlights of the taxi bus.
At about 7 o’clock we arrived at the hotel where we were already expected by our hosts.
Monday 24 March 2014
At Roinila Centre
Very early the next day a bus came to collect us and take us to Roinila centre, where we would spend that day and the next. The centre is a kind of youth hostel. It has several dormitories, an assembly room and various facilities for different activities. Our Finnish hosts had planned various activities for us to get to know each other and to have fun together, but first we all met in the assembly room. A local social worker then introduced us to the schedule for the two days at the centre and explained what was in store for us.
First, all students got together in groups according to their home country. The task was to present the different countries to the others. To do this we had to draw the outline of one of the student’s body on paper and then fill the sketch with things that are typical or important for the respective country. The groups would then have to present their home country to the others with the help of the sketch they had made. After that it was time for the next meal.
After the meal all students had to form mixed groups. The new task was to develop an idea how all the different countries in one group could be combined in a snow sculpture to represent the COMENIUS idea of belonging together in spite of all cultural differences. All groups worked with a lot of enthusiasm and had a lot of fun designing and sculpting their ideas in the snow. When every group had finished their sculpture each of the results was explained to the others. All the results were really impressive and as diverse as the cultures they represented.
While the students were engaged in the sculpting activity, the teachers got together for a work session discussing and planning the topic for the next meeting in Turkey, the necessary actions for the final report on the current COMENIUS project and developing ideas for the new ERASMUS project.
Then it was time for yet another meal after which everybody was free to spend time with each other playing at billiards, cards, just chatting and the like. And to round up the day, there was the last meal of the day. We really were in no danger of starving with all the delicious and plentiful meals.
Tuesday 25 March 2014
Winter activities at Roinila Centre
After breakfast, the first meal of several again (the Finnish have more meal times than we have in Germany) we started the day with a number of winter activities. We split up into three groups as there were three different activities planned. One group went snow shoeing, the next went ice-fishing on the huge lake behind the centre, and the third group tried tandem skiing down the path to the lake. Snow shoeing took us on a short walk through the woods near the centre. Though putting on the snow shoes was a bit difficult, walking with them wasn’t. In fact, they made it quite easy to get through the snow, in which we otherwise would have sunk up to our knees. It was great fun and everybody successfully managed the walk.
Unfortunately, ice-fishing did not go that well; only one Polish boy actually managed to catch a fish – and a very tiny one it was. Though the rest of us sat as patiently by our holes drilled through about 50 cm thick ice with a tiny fishing rod in our hands, nobody else had any luck in catching a fish.
The final test of our fitness for winter in Finland came with tandem-skiing down the path to the lake. Again sorted into groups, we had to line up one behind the other and put our feet through hoops on wooden boards and then try and move forward. It was quite a big challenge for all of us to synchronize our movements so that we did not tumble down. Well, of course some were more successful than others, and quite a few didn’t get anywhere … see for yourselves …
After that the students were free to use the remaining time at Roinila Centre as they wished; some just got together to chat, others played games or at billiards. The teachers continued their work on issues concnerning the current project and the intended new ERASMUS project.
The fun was over all too soon and we had to pack our things again after one last meal a Roinila Centre. Back at Suomussalmi every student was picked up by their host families. Some of the students met to go ice-skating and a pizza afterwards.
Wednesday 26 March 2014
Reception at the school and work sessions
On the 4th day we were welcomed at our partner school. We started this day with our presentations on bioenergy. The students from each country had prepared a presentation about the results of the work they had carried out on the topic. The presentations were very good and gave a good idea of how bioenergy was used in the different countries. Right after the presentations we had lunch in the school cafeteria. Next we visited a bioenergy plant in Suomussalmi that provides enough energy for heating for the majority of the households in Suomussalmi. It was amazing to see how effectively waste wood can be used to generate enough energy by a comparatively small power plant for a complete town. Then the bus took us back to the school where we were invited to a school band concert. That was really terrific. There were various singers and musicians and they had chosen a wide range of international as well as Finnish songs. The band had chosen the songs well and gave a fantastic performance thus getting us to tap our feet, clap our hands and some even to sing along. The rest of the afternoon we were free to spend in what way we liked. Most students decided to do go to one of the many youth houses there are in Suomussalmi together for Finnish sweets and souvenirs, and the teachers got together for their teachers’ conference.
Thursday 27 March 2014
Excursion to Kuhmo
At 7 o‘clock the next morning the bus picked us up for the excursion to the bio energy plant in Kuhmo. Actually, it is a company that processes timber for different uses. But the sawdust that is produced in the process of that production is a fuel material: It is pressed into briquette as a solid bio fuel. Other by-products such as bark are used to fuel the plant itself.
On our way back we stopped at a school in Kuhmo and had lunch there in the school cafeteria. After the lunch there was some time to do some shopping in the shops close by and then we started our journey back to Suomussalmi.
Friday 28 March 2014
Travelling back home
After the splendid time we had together in Suomussalmi it was time to say goodbye. That was a very hard thing to do. We had all become such good friends during our stay in Finland, we had seen and done so much together, had had so much fun and formed friendships that it seemed most cruel having to part. Some of us took it quite a while till they were ready to give each other one final hug and say goodbye. But it had to be done – there taxi bus was already waiting. The drive to Kajaani airport took place in broad daylight so we were able to see a still bit more of the terrific landscape – lots of trees, lots of lakes and white as far as one could see. At Kajaani airport we took our last photos of us all and at take-off at Helsinki airport we had the last few glimpses of the beautiful landscape in Finland. Eventually, we arrived back at Dusseldorf airport and a great time was really over. We brought back a lot of great memories of a fantastic time – we only wished we could have stayed longer.