Saudi teachers describe their training experience in Finland.
Finnish Education Experience through One Teacher’s Eyes
I met Raghda, a high school English teacher from Saudi Arabia, when the Building Leadership for Change through School Immersion programme was about to end last year. Raghda is one of the 116 Saudi teachers and education professionals who came to Finland in May 2017 to train in the programme.
The participants were divided up across the country to learn about the reputable Finnish education system. Raghda’s training took place in the metropolitan area, where she settled with her family for six months.
I talked with Raghda at an event where all the participants presented their final projects. Each had selected a topic of one’s choice and created an action plan to implement the project at their own schools in Saudi Arabia. It was inspiring to see how all the presentations projected the thorough effect the training experience in Finland had had on the participants and their thoughts and ideas about teaching.
As someone who has gone through the whole Finnish education system from preschool to university, it was interesting to hear about it in Raghda’s point of view. “Culture is one of the main factors in things that are happening inside Finnish schools. Every specific detail I saw here in the school I can change to suite for our schools in Saudi Arabia”, Raghda told me with enthusiasm.
“The first people who should benefit from this programme are the pupils in Saudi Arabia. That’s why we are here”, Raghda stated. “And the pupils have an effect on the society and it has an effect on the country.”
Raghda also ensured that the programme would be useful for all kinds of teachers and professionals in the education field: “All the participants here, whatever subject they are teaching or if they are principals, supervisors or counsellors, have huge benefits from this.”
Besides Raghda’s thoughts about the training experience, I was interested to hear what she had enjoyed in Finland in general. “The weather”, she replied immediately to my surprise. First I wasn’t sure if she was joking or not, but she then reassured me: “When we came in May, most people said to us ‘oh sorry, this is the worst summer, it’s raining all the time’. But we are enjoying the rain. There’s no rain back home.”
One thing Raghda brought up as well was the people. “Finnish people, let me say, are shy but very polite at the same time”, she explained. “If I ask them to help me, they leave what they have in their hands and they come to help me.” I was very pleased to hear she had been treated such a nice way here.
“Every day I discovered a new road, a new way, new places and new customs”, Raghda summarized her experiences in Finland. “Yesterday at an event I saw Santa Clause, who had come from Rovaniemi. It was amazing”, she sighed.
Based on our brief conversation it appeared that both Finland and the whole training programme had impressed Raghda. “I enjoy it here”, she concluded, “I want to repeat it again and again and again.”
Click on the video above to hear more Saudi teachers’ experiences in Finland.
Writer: Saara Kankainen, Communications Coordinator, University of Helsinki Centre for Continuing Education HY+