I woke up early and went for a walk around Helsinki. I loved the crunch of the snow under my feet, the snow covered frozen water, the readily available bicycles, and the cool trees.
I was VERY excited about the agenda today and it did not disappoint! We learned about environmental and sustainability education in Finland.
The Finnish Nature Centre Haltia hosts one day visits for 5th through 9th grade classes. They teach basic hiking skills, how to dress outdoors, how to cook outdoors, and more. A main focus of instruction is biodiversity. Nature school programs are connected to the curriculum in the schools. Sustainability runs throughout the curriculum in ALL subjects.
Bird programs are in the spring. Owls are active this time of year, March. Students spend time learning about animal architecture and how humans have benefited from it and applied it to our designs, etc.
After we explored the nature center we went for a hike. We learned that Finland has a lot of industry based on paper. The country is 3/4 trees, but there are not many old growth forests. The average age for their trees is 60 years old, the age the trees are cut for industry.
In Finland the land is open to the people, even if it is private property. This means that you can hike and camp on another person's land, as long as you leave NO trace! You may not enter into any buildings, use any equipment, etc. However, you may enjoy the nature, all of the nature!
Our hike ended at a campfire with our wonderful leaders, Mirka McIntire, Inari Ahokas, and Maija Kettunen. They went ahead of us and set up a campfire. We roasted sausages and a delicious dessert bread that you put on the end of sticks to cook. It was comical to navigate this process, not letting the dough fall of the sticks.
We carefully put out the campfire, packing it with snow. We then headed to the sauna. It was helpful to have our leaders show us how it is done. We were hot! The smoke sauna was even more intense, as the people added THREE scoops of water to the coals. Yikes! Even more intense was quickly moving outside from the sauna and taking a dip into the Baltic Sea! I did not go in the water the first time my group went out. On the second trip outside, I built up the courage and went it! I never let go of the railing, but got wet almost up to my shoulders. When in Finland...
Michele and I had some extra time after the sauna and ice swimming for a game of "Baltic Hole" (Corn Hole) in the snow.
We came back to the hotel to get ready for our first meal on our own, not organized by Fulbright Finland. We typically squeeze into elevators together. This photo is missing two women in our group. We sat at a historic table for dinner and celebrated the moment.
It was another fun filled day!
All the best,