The North Star Project, 2013 Summer Report Number Eleven, Huitennen, Finland — On Teaching and Learning Across National Boundaries

The North Star Project, Summer Report Number Eleven, Huitennen, Finland — On Teaching and Learning Across National Boundaries

By Kaia Lawton, Huitennen, Finland Report #2

So, this session is over. Every two weeks we will be getting a new wave of kids and as the summer progresses the kids will get older. Some kids do stay for two or more sessions, but none of my kids are.

This week we repeated a few things with reviews and learned some new things. We went over colors, clothing, animals, family, weather, countries, including the US and we even went into the 50 states. The kids were shocked that I remembered all 50 of the states and listed them in alphabetical order. All week long we also went over a song that they were to perform at the final ceremony friday afternoon before they received their certificates. My class and another teacher, Steve’s class, joined up and sang the grasshopper song. It was pretty amazing seeing all the hard work come together in that moment and give them each their certificate of completion.


The one thing I have to say is most trying so far for me has been figuring out the dynamics and interactions between the kids. With the language barrier already in place, I have seen the kids take advantage of it and they will pick on kids in the class while the teacher is feet from them. I may know some Russian, but not enough to pick up on things like that. We can’t tell if a kid is being picked on in class until there is, most times, hitting or throwing of objects, maybe even some tears, screaming and so on. Then, we immediately blame the child who is more than likely the victim until we understand what is really happening, and I feel terrible when that happens. These kids are also much more outspoken than most kids from the US,and they will yell with or at supervisors when they have to come in to fix situations like that. It is a new experience to see that all together.

I have also seen how bipolar this job can be, at least in terms of teaching the younger kids. One minute they could be acting out and make me crazy and I feel like I hate them and ask myself why I even took this job. But then they turn around and do something nice, like write me messages on my board and laugh when I try to speak Russian with them, or teach me something new, and all my doubts just float away and I know that this job will give me something that I would never have gotten elsewhere.
For all of the North Star Project Summer Reports, see HERE

The North Star Project: Collaboration between The Middle Ground Journal Student Interns, The College of St. Scholastica, and North Star Academy 8th Grade Global Studies Classes, 2013-2014 School Year Summer Reports.

Under the leadership of our North Star host teachers and student interns, The North Star Project has flourished for two years. For a brief summary, please see a recent article in the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:

This summer we will re-tool and re-design the collaborative program, drawing on the experience of our veteran student interns, ideas from our host teachers, and new projects provided by our incoming student interns. This summer The Middle Ground Journal will share brief dispatches from our North Star Project student interns, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. As of the time of this report we have confirmed student interns who will be reporting from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, northeastern China, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing presentations on theatrical representations of historical trauma, historical memory, the price individuals pay during tragic global conflicts, and different perceptions of current events from around the world. We will post their brief dispatches here throughout the summer, and report on their interactions with the North Star students and teachers throughout the school year.

Hong-Ming Liang, Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, USA, June, 2013

(c) 2013 The Middle Ground Journal, Number 6, Spring, 2013. See Submission Guidelines page for the journal’s not-for-profit educational open-access policy.

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