I was born in Kallio, Helsinki, but life has led me to live in places as diverse as Dar es Salaam, New York, New Haven, Sydney, and now Lohja. The daughter of an Australian mother and a Finnish father who met in Lesotho, I have been privileged as a birthright to learn two languages and travel the world.
When I look back on my school years, it’s the teachers I remember the most. At Rintinpolun ala-aste, it was Leena Andersen, who taught our lively class for six years. She imparted her love of music and language.
At UNIS in New York, it was our Irish-American history and anthropology teacher, Tom Wilson, who taught and worked on his own PhD at the same time. He was passionate about his subject and it inspired me to follow my passions rather than give in to materialism.
I also loved all my English teachers! One year my teacher encouraged me to develop my descriptive language along the lines of the party in The Great Gatsby. (She also gave us gummy bears for good answers.) My next teacher crossed out all my adjectives and wanted me to pare my writing down to the bare bones of who, what, when, why and how. Confusing? At first, yes. But later I have realized it was an important lesson in finding my own voice.
At Yale, I best remember a journalism seminar where Fred Strebeigh taught us that every story should have ‘snaps’ and that he spent a long time setting them up. It opened my eyes to the craft of nonfiction writing, how to be both truthful and creative at the same time. That fall, his long article on a feminist lawyer was getting a lot of attention, and I still remember him telling us about all the work and politics that went into getting it published by The New York Times.
Getting my Masters at Helsinki University was a different experience. My goals were clearer, so that made it easier to work and study full-time. Teija Tiilikainen’s lectures on the EU and Jani Johanson’s thesis seminar on social capital helped me see organizations in a new light: the strength that lies in trust and social networks.
I’ve worked at The English School since 1999. What has made me stay so long in one place? I suppose it’s the sense of community that takes pride in its history and uniqueness. Children eager to learn, parents who care about bilingual education, colleagues who do their best to foster growth into good human beings.
I think every adult has at least one teacher who they’ll remember for the rest of their lives. I hope our students find one here at The English School.