WEEK FOUR: starting with videos

After the autumn break the students started to work on the videos they were supposed to create in groups of three. They were to choose one theme from the UN sustainable development goals and study that in the way they chose. Some decided to use still pictures mostly with a voice over, some thought about creating a sort of a vlog entry and some decided to make interviews. Great ideas! They don’t have an exam after this course so the video will be their final show of what they have learned.

Our next theme was stereotypes followed by equality. Yes, equality and not tolerance.

“Today’s theme was tolerance and stereotypes. Before the lesson, I hadn’t really paid attention to the word tolerance, and how it’s actually a really negative word. I think it’s like you don’t like something about a person’s personality or their opinions, but because you consider yourself a nice person you think “ok I’ll tolerate that.” It’s like you’re above them.” 

The highlight of the week was a visitor. I had got to know Rima Hadid earlier in connection to the previous EW course. She kindly agreed to come again and talk about the Third Culture Kids. Her presentation was really interesting and gave new perspectives.

“I learned a new term today: Third Culture Kids, kids who have lived a recognizable period of time in a different culture that their parents’ or the culture they were born in. I think it’s important to be aware that some people might feel like that (not belonging). Today made me appreciate my childhood even more. I believe it must be really hard for TCKs because they  don’t just move to another city but they move to a  whole different country and culture. Today’s lesson was very eye-opening and I’m glad I learned about this subject. 


Rima Hadid with some of the students



WEEK THREE: visitor and narratives

We had a visitor who has come from India but lived in Oulu for several years now. Mr Alok Sethi gave us an interesting presentation of his home country.

“His home country was very fascinating. Something new that I learned was that India has almost 200 (including the unofficial ones) languages! Finland’s two languages seem so sad compared to that haha. He also showed us gorgeous pictures of some islands that he thought were great places for tourists to visit. Some of the first things that come to mind when thinking of India is the poverty and the bad hygiene, but the presentation was a great reminder that India is so much more than that.


Alok Sethi

Then we moved on to a new theme: narratives and hate speech. Narratives are the “stories” that lie behind our thinking. Narratives are necessary to create structure in our world but if they are not questioned and revealed, they can be harmful. Hate speech is an ugly phenomenon that heavily rests on false narratives.

“Especially narratives were not so familiar to me, so the lesson about them was really useful and good and I got a hang of them. Then we used a good while to speak about our own experiences, which I liked a lot. I think the questions we answered in our little groups made us all think. The media is full of narratives affecting us. It made me think.”

“We got familiar with the “No hate speech movement“. That was also something that I hadn’t heard before. I think its quite important to speak about hate speech. It is a thing which is hidden in almost everything in today’s society.  Recognizing these things make us more media critical. That is important…” 

The last lesson this week was about thinking and judging – do we judge too easily without really thinking first? The students were then asked to write a paper on the themes that we had covered.

WEEK TWO: human rights and refugees

We continued with the SDGs for a while and moved on to the larger picture of human rights. There is a lot of material online related to these themes so the difficulty when planning a lesson is actually to decide what to choose! We had some very good discussions in the class.

 “We talked about the Nobel Peace Prize, and watched Malala’s speech when she won hers. I had never watched her speech, but I did know her story and wow, she is one incredibly brave and strong girl. It baffles me that she is just three years older than me, but has already achieved so much. Truly an inspiration, and gave me motivation to work harder. Oh, we did also talk about Human Rights! Something that people don’t even realize are a thing, because they’re so obvious.”

On one day our exchange student gave us a lesson on her home country Mexico. It was a very good lesson and we learned a lot. The rest of the group was also very impressed by her ability to give a lesson. This is how she felt about it:

“I gave the class of today. I talked about my country, Mexico, and all its traditions, costumes, foods, cities and everything. At first I was a little bit nervous because I was afraid of doing something wrong but everything went well. I also talked about my daily life and a little bit of my family and the city where I live. It was interesting that they wanted to know about my country and that we also talked about my exchange year. I hope that everyone enjoyed it.

Next we talked about the situation of the world’s refugees and asylum seekers. Here are two samples from students’ journals:

“This class was about asylum seekers. I think the discussions were eye-opening and especially the video “Refugee’s phone” had me thinking. The video really took me to the situation where refugees are when they don’t know who to trust or don’t have internet to communicate. It must be scary. We discussed a lot together.”

“The thing that stuck with me the most, is the fact that the countries who are taking in the most refugees, are countries where its own citizens and society are having trouble. Many Finns think we’re taking in too many refugees, when in reality we don’t even reach the top 10, maybe not even top 20, of countries that take in the most refugees. It made me feel like we’re not doing enough. Countries poorer than Finland are taking in more refugees than us, even if they don’t have money to treat its own citizens well. I don’t think it’s that black and white, but it made me feel like we should do more. It also made me realize how lucky I am.”


Recently I finished the third time I taught the English Worldwide course. I had a lovely group of 15 students. I had decided to keep most of the old themes and add some new ones. To my surprise it was rather difficult to get visitors this time. In the previous years there have been so many volunteers that it has almost been a problem. Luckily I managed to get a couple of visitors outside our school. In addition, wonderful teachers from our own school gave lessons on their own special fields.

As usual, we started the course with some ice breaking activities. There were students from different years and an exchange student there. So, not everyone knew each other beforehand. The group was courageous to introduce themselves and talk about their interests and aims. We had a few activities and all were very willing to take part.

This is what one student wrote in her journal:

“I was really nervous before the first lesson. To meet new people and talk to them in a language that is not my mother tongue, made me nervous. But I’m really glad that I joined the course. I can already tell it’s going to be a really fun course. It’s also great practice for my future. ” 

For the rest of the week we worked on the UN sustainable development goals. We watched videos, discussed and had several activities to learn the goals.

Really enjoyed today’s lesson! We talked about the sustainable development goals, which was really interesting. I’m pretty sure I’ve heard of them before, but the lesson was a needed refresh of the stuff that I had forgotten. I was also really glad that this was one of the topics of this course, because it made me rethink about the way I live my life.”


The final lesson

And then there was one. The last lesson of the course. It was time to watch the videos the group had made over the past weeks. They were supposed to choose one UN Sustainable Development Goal and somehow cover it in their video. Otherwise they had a free hand. After watching all the videos we talked about them and the whole group voted which three videos should be published here on this site. I was very proud of all of my students and they did a good job. However, I agreed with the students – these were the best ones. Others were good as well but they had some technical issues that prevented publishing.

Joona, Pyry and Mikko’s: Education

Miikka, Mikael, Tommy and Matias’s: Goal 12

Joonas and Aleksi’s: SDGs (like a vlog post)

I am feeling very happy after the course. This is what one student wrote in his journal after the course:

“So, what have I learned during this course? I have learned a lot about different people, cultures and countries, and I think I can watch the world much more open mindedly now.”

Until next year!


Week six

This week was very lively again since we had nothing but visitors! It gives me a bit of stress trying to make sure everybody finds the school (not goes to a wrong one…) and is able to arrive more or less on time. Sometimes I need to make some phone calls and pick up people from wrong places, no matter how precise information I try to give. Still, I find this kind of work utterly important even if there is some hassle every now and then.

First we had Petra Kreč from Slovenia. It was a bit different lesson since Petra is educated in group dynamics. We did some activities and didn’t concentrate on her home country for the whole lesson. We had a lot of fun and the group was very willing to play along.


Next there were two visitors on each lesson: Marzie Khoshnazar (Iran) with Maria (Greece) and Lin Wang aka Jessica (China) with Rima Haddid (Algeria). It didn’t matter that we had already had a visitor from China. They got in touch with each other before Jessica’s visit and didn’t talk about the same topics. Rima’s lesson was a bit different from others. She introduced a new concept to us, Third Culture Kids. Rima’s background was multicultural and she shared her own experiences with some scientific information on actually being without a home country and mother tongue. It was quite eye opening.

Marzie on the left and Maria on the right.


Rima and Jessica


Week five

This week was full of guests! On Monday we were visited by Zhu Ning from China. On Wednesday there were three AIESEC students: Matúš Genský (Slovakia), Bayu Permana Putra (Indonesia)  and Hajer Ben Ghalloum (Tunisia). It is very educational and fun to have so many visitors in the class during this course. We get to meet interesting people who are willing to come and share their experiences with Finnish students. I, the teacher, get to be a student as well and learn a lot.

From left to right: Hajer, Matúš and Baju. In the pictures on the right there is Zhu Ning.

On Thursday the results of the US presidential election were out. Naturally we spent a while talking about them. In the remaining time of the lesson we had various activities and e.g. watched a film “Why study languages”.