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European Cultural Diversity: Finland-Flanders

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F@F-project (1999) between Sipoon Lukio (Finland) and Tienen College (Belgium)

Tiina Viitanen

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Karel Van Rompaey

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I met Karel in Alden Biesen, Belgium, at a contact seminar for teachers. We decided to start a joint e-mail project with our classes in English. The project has given me a good friend in Belgium and for my students, too. I haven’t learnt a lot about Belgium since our correspondence has been concentrating mostly on the practical parts of the project. But I hope to continue keeping in touch and learning something about the Belgian culture as well.

Karel could be well called our project manager since he’s been the one to do the planning and I’ve just tried to urge my students to do their share. Karel is the computer expert and I’m trying to learn something new all the time. Some students have worked more than others but I guess all of them have gained something from this project.

I’m very happy if you have found good friends in a foreign country, too. Let this friendship last!

Tiina Viitanen is a splendid teacher. She's a mother of four: three girls (one is eleven, the twins are 10) and the youngest is a boy. So, Tiina has to work very hard in everyday life.

Tiina's attitude is that she won't give up so easily. She has this Finnish characteristic that is called 'sisu' ('guts' in English, which doesn't say everything 'sisu' means.)

When the president of France was paying an official visit to Finland in May, Mr. and Mrs. Chirac spent some time in Tiina's daughter's school. Guess who was to address the President... in French? Tiina! She also introduced other speakers in French, for example the Mayor of Helsinki and the head of the National Board of Education of Finland, who don't speak French themselves. Tiina and her daughter, who gave flowers to Madame Chirac, were filmed for a long documentory on French TV. In other words: Tiina is an international celebrity now!