Name: Annakaisa Oksava
From: Metropolia University of applied sciences, Helsinki, Finland
To: Amsterdam, lecturing in the international minor porgramme
Why are you in Amsterdam?
I am one of the lecturers within the Minor Programme Social Work in Urban Areas (SWUA). This programme was set up by 4 different institutions from 4 different countries and is held at one of the participating universities each year. This year it is Amsterdam. It is my first time teaching in this programme and I really like it. Back home I teach the first year students about social pedagogy and working environments in social services. I also do community counseling. I am involved in different projects, locally and internationally within Metropolia. Within this SWUA I teach values & ethics and critical thinking. I haven’t taught critical thinking yet and am curious to see how that class will be like.
Any cultural differences in class?
Students within this programme come from various destinations. I was positively surprised to see that the students were actively participating during class. They were prepared and where first I thought that it was weird that they were all looking at their laptop screen while I was teaching, I soon realized that they were taking notes. In Finland students usually don’t take many notes or at least not use their laptop for it. In class we had a discussion and it was great to see that they learn from different perspectives. One thing I for example learned by working internationally is that Finnish people can be really direct when writing emails. I am working on trying not to be too direct and hope students are not offended or find me rude. It is really interesting and I am really motivated because I know that I will see the entire group in 2 years when the programme will be running in Finland, at my university.
Looking forward to hosting the programme in Finland?
I am definitely looking forward to it. Within this programme we work with fly-in teachers from the participating universities who teach parts of the programme and lecturers from the hosting university who teach throughout the entire programme. When the programme is held in Finland it will be great to meet all the fly-in teachers, because now for example I am only meeting the Dutch colleagues from the programme. I haven’t met the rest yet, which is quite extraordinary when realizing that together we are offering a coherent programme. A programme that is working well! Either way, I will probably meet the other colleagues in March for the evaluation and next year I will be teaching at this programme in Ghent where the 2019 edition will be.
How is it to teach in English?
I have been working for Metropolia for two years now. And have started lecturing in the English speaking programme last year. I started teaching in our English programme because I wanted to improve my English and learn from different perspectives. When working with students who are from different countries and have different cultural background you can learn a lot from their perspectives. It broadens your own perspectives and obviously we can learn from each other.
In the beginning teaching in English was a challenge. Especially because I like to use a lot of jokes while teaching. By teaching in English I suddenly was limited in my vocabulary. Luckily you improve along the way. And after one year of teaching some classes in English I am even here teaching in an international programme in another country! As you might already guessed....This is my first real international teaching experience and its great!
What should you attend this programme?
Working with people from different cultures is great. It is nice to be able to learn from each other. You can give examples, compare countries and bring to the attending whatever we are proud of. We can exchange experiences and you get the chance to exchange theories and methods you work with. One student said even though we come from different backgrounds and countries we all understand each other. We might even use different examples back home, which we might even put in different contexts, the general picture remains the same for all of us. We know what each of us is talking about. It might be a bit different, it kind of is the same.
Students should attend this programme because they can broaden their knowledge and gain tool to use by exploring this city and the perspectives from other students. Many students mentioned that they got a much better picture of Amsterdam by exchanging their ideas perspectives regarding the city with others. They made a small review about the urban areas in general and should be taken into account at each university because urban areas are a growing phenomenon in every country/large city. I think it is important to emphasise this subject.