21.10.10 – Max could use his own blog. Everyday he comes home with a new story about his class. Most times they are hysterical and a few times they make you shake your head but they are always interesting.
We moved to one of the most “homogenous” countries in the world. In America, it’s not unusual to ask your friends where their “roots” are from. The answer would always be some other country. When you ask a Finn where their roots are from, they answer with a Finnish city or another region in Finland. Everyone is Finnish. The main reason we moved to Finland was for the educational system and the advantages it would provide Emma and Max. Little did we know before we came here how inhomogeneous their classrooms would be.
Max attends a normal Finnish school where Emma is attending an international school. Max’s school has a special classroom for children immigrating to the country. It helps them get up to speed with the language, culture and the Finnish school system. Max is in a class of 10. 3 are from Russia, 3 are from Somalia, 1 from Korea, 1 from Spain, 1 from Rwanda and last but not least 1 American, that would be Max. So these kids are not having “roots” from some other country, they are from some other country. Most of them don’t speak Finnish either but to their credit, almost all of them speak at least two other languages.
Here are a couple of things Max has told me about his class
- His class is the smallest in the school but it is also the loudest.
- He thinks it’s odd that his Somalian friends make fun of him because he’s afraid of spiders but they are afraid of dogs.
- When I asked him about one girl in the class he told me, “just say she doesn’t have an indoor voice.”
- One of his 5th grade classmates is growing a mustache.
- He went with his class to a theater to see a play and when they used the bathroom a couple of the Somalian boys were “freaked” out about the urinals.
- When they were at the theater watching the play his class was dancing in the aisles which caused everyone else in the theatre to watch them instead of the play. Of course, Max said he wasn’t dancing but sitting with his head buried in his hands.
I told him maybe someday he’ll end up writing a screenplay about his move to Finland. I hope he does because I know he tells it better than me.
I should say one thing that’s probably the most important. I almost always laugh at his stories and he enjoys making us laugh. He sees the humor in it too, but the kids in his class are really amazing. I’ve watched them hash out problems where one boy is translating from English and Finnish into Somalian for one of his friends. I don’t think any kid would move by choice and these kids have done some “extreme moving” and I’ve seen them adapting and making the most of it. I think they are awesome!
- Lesley Chilcott: My Crush on Finland (huffingtonpost.com)
- What do the best classrooms in the world look like? (slate.com)
- MY TURN | An Exchange Student’s Hello From Helsinki (kitsapsun.com)
- I’m Finnish(ed) (edreformer.com)