Hösmärinpuisto School builds community spirit through cultural encounters

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2019-11-26 9:31

Hösmärinpuisto school is a culturally diverse community. About 60% of the pupils have another mother tongue than Finnish. The diverse languages and cultures are seen as a reserve of strength in building community spirit at the school. Head of school Eeva Lumiaro invites also the children’s parents to the school community.  Lumiaro came up with the idea while working in Abu Dhabi, where the school's pupils were represented by many different nationalities. There, the school hosted a joint international home and school day where parents could introduce their own culture to others. The idea landed with Lumiaro in Hösmärinpuisto.

Planning for the International Day for Home and School began with a message to parents. After that, the staff and parents met at the parents' evening. The parents' evening was about whether parents from African cultures, for example, could pool their know-how and hold a joint cultural workshop. Finnish culture was also represented, and the Finnish way of celebrating Christmas was introduced in the Finnish culture workshop. In each culture workshop, parents were able to design the program themselves and decide how to present their own culture to others.

During International Day, children and parents were able to visit cultural workshops held in the classrooms. The workshops featured cultural dances, costumes, music, scents or flavors, for example. The children were given passports for the cultural day, and they were stamped at each of the cultural workshops they visited. On the reverse side of the passport there was also a task where everyone had to write the word "thank you" in the native language of the given culture. During the day, the parents' association of Hösmärinpuisto School held a buffet where visitors could buy cuisine from different parts of the world and through which funds for pupils were raised.

Russian food.

Language of the month increases understanding and respect

The event received great praise from parents who thought it was wonderful to be able to introduce their own culture and mother tongue. The children were proud to introduce their own roots to their school friends. According to school head Lumiaro, the event brought home and school together nicely, and some cultural workshops had attracted not only the pupils' parents but also other relatives to participate. According to Lumiaro, the event should be held every two years.

The Hösmärinpuisto School also hosts other international events. The school selects the language of the month, which changes monthly. Currently, students in Hösmärinpuisto speak more than 20 different languages.The language of the month is pre-communicated to parents who discuss the matter with their children and, where appropriate, advise on how to express the basics, such as numbers 1-10. After that, the children who speak that language get together with the teacher to have a morning opening where they teach other students to count to 10 in their language. Each language is also made into a poster on the school canteen wall, which pupil can visit to recap the basics of these different languages. Once a year the language of the month is Finnish. Pupils are excited about their mother tongue. A second year pupil had been waiting since preschool to choose his language for the month, and he was delighted when his turn finally came, Lumiaro says.

Introducing Chinese culture to the students.

School festivities are a celebration of cultures

During the previous school year, the school’s students got to explore celebrations based on different views of life, such as Orthodox Easter, Evangelical Lutheran Christmas and Chinese New Year. Also, the Christmas party and the Christmas church are organized separately. Families can attend the Christmas Church. There is a special Christmas party at the school which welcomes all pupils, as it is based on cultures, not on the view on life. According to Lumiaro, it's great that everyone can experience the school Christmas celebrations as a party that is fun to attend and open for everyone.

The international work of the Espoo Education and Cultural Services promotes an appreciative and open-minded atmosphere, offers Espoo citizens the opportunity to strengthen their international skills and is a tool for service development . The world around is increasingly diverse. Internationalism as an attitude, courage, and understanding therefore applies to everyone. Internationalization at home, or internationalization in the local community, is increasingly part of the everyday life of Espoo residents. International collaboration is important for creating encounters, developing services and solving challenges together with partners . The objectives and principles of the international work are outlined in  The International and Global Education Programme of Espoo Education and Cultural Services 2019–2021.