|My newspaper article|
A couple of weeks ago I gave my presentation to Rotary about my year in Finland. It was, of course, entirely in Finnish. My host family came to support me. One Rotarian took notes and submitted a short article to the local news paper called ”Ihmemies” Davidson Kanadasta, or “MacGyver” Davidson from Canada. It called me MacGyver (literally Wonder Man) in reference to the fact that I have been so involved and done so many things this year.
|Kalle, Heli, Ilkka, and me on the dam at the Imatrankoski|
My host sister Emma (24) just graduated from a visual arts post-secondary school in the town of Imatra, which is in Eastern Finland, almost at the Russian border. A couple weekends ago her school had their graduating students’ gala. We (me, my host parents, and my two host brothers, one of whom came from his university town Oulu) drove to Imatra to support Emma. The Imatrankoski (Imatra rapids) are said to be the first tourist attraction in Finland; Catherine the Great of Russia is known to have visited them many years ago. In the summer, the floodgates are opened and the rapids are lit up, but they weren’t yet when we were there. We stayed in quite a spectacular hotel in Imatra; it reminded me a bit of the Fairmont Banff Springs, but smaller. After the visiting the art exhibition we all went out for dinner at a very nice restaurant. This night happened to be the same night as the Canada versus Finland game in the World Hockey Championships. After dinner I was proud of Canada for winning, but I’m not really very much of a hockey person. (Eventually Finland and Canada came out fourth and fifth respectively.) The next morning Emma gave us a tour of her school. Her specialties are printmaking, drawing, and photography. She showed us several of the interesting machines that she and her classmates use. We spent the rest of the day on the road home.
|The pasta is drying. Each one is rolled out and sliced by hand.|
Mother’s Day was a couple of weeks ago. Kalle and I made homemade pasta from scratch. No machines involved in the process whatsoever. That was a very lengthy process, but it was probably the best pasta I have ever eaten. I called home and had a good conversation with my Mom and my sister (Dad was in Toronto).
|Me with my language certificate and valkolakki|
You may recall that at the end of March I wrote a language test. Afterwards I felt that it had gone quite poorly. I wrote the intermediate level test instead of the basic level which most Rotary students write. It was a very difficult test, but I received my results last week…ja se meni läpi! (I passed!) I am now a certified speaker, listener, reader, and writer of B1 Finnish! This means that I understand the central idea from longer stretches of text, provided the topic area is relatively familiar and that I can write simple, coherent texts even though grammatical and lexical inaccuracies may occasionally hinder comprehension. I have been told that I am the first Rotary student in Kauhava to have ever passed the intermediate test. To celebrate my success, I bought a Finnish ylioppilaslakki (graduation cap).
|I am on the far right.|
I have been rehearsing for several months in anticipation for the ensi-ilta (open night) of the community’s musical “Pohjalasia”. I am, in fact, on the show’s poster! I play the small but important role of a häjy (HIGH-yew). The häjyt could be considered to be like a Finnish version of a gang of cowboy bandits. They roamed this area of Finland (Etelä-Pohjanmaa) a hundred or so years ago. The premiere evening went quite well. My second host family as well as my host grandmother came to see the performance. The theatre was almost sold out. I received several roses at the end. We had our second show the next day, and my last show will be tonight (May 25) because I will be on my EuroTour for the remainder of the run, which includes one more show in Kauhava and two shows in Helsinki.
|The six of us at the main entrance gate|
Powerpark is an amusement park situated in Alahärmä, which is another town which was amalgamated a few years ago to be part of Kauhava. A couple of months ago I emailed the Rotex for District 1380 with the idea that the inbound students could visit the park for a day in the spring. Well, last Sunday my idea came to fruition and five of us (half of the students in our district) as well as a student who is in Finnish Lapland spent the day at the park. The weather wasn’t great, but it made for very short lines; we never had to wait. For a little town, the park is quite good. There are a few roller coasters, several very thrilling rides, some rides you might find at a carnival back home, and some kiddie rides.
My current host dad is a powered paraglider (PPG). A couple days ago I went with him to the airfield on a good evening for flying. Check out this youtube video he made!
My year has to come to an end. Lots of stuff is coming to an end in my town: my last day of regular school was yesterday and my last performance with the church choir was last Thursday (Ascension Day). Next week will be my last band rehearsal, Rotary meeting, and the lukio’s graduation ceremony. On June 3rd I will depart for my whirlwind tour of Europe (nine countries, seventeen days).
I received my flight information for my return trip. I will depart at 8 am from HEL (Helsinki Airport) to Frankfurt and will then continue to Washington, DC, and onto Seattle. My long, 26 hour day of travel will end just before midnight when I arrive into Vancouver.
Note: to all people who may have been fooled, the video is of my host dad flying, the photo at the end is just me trying the equipment on after his flight.