Land of Ice & Berries


Some reflections on Finland: People put the lid down on the toilet in public restrooms. (Not just the seat; the lid!) There are a lot of statues of women (fully clothed). When the Finns win the World Ice Hockey Championship, it’s not a small deal. And finally, the schools are not perfect—which makes them more interesting than I’d thought.

I interviewed principals, teachers, students and researchers in five cities. I had some beers with American teachers who have spent the past four months obsessing over what the Finns are doing that we are not. I ate frozen cranberries covered in hot caramel sauce. I flashed across the fir-lined countryside in a train full of quiet Finns.

My favorite part of the trip was visiting with Kim, the American girl who chose to spend this school year in Pietarsaari, Finland, leaving Sallisaw, Oklahoma, far behind. Now I have a notebook full of treasures ready to be sorted and shined for the book. Many, many thanks to Kim, her host families, AFS and her school for so graciously putting up with me.