What subject do you teach in Mikkeli?
I came to teach in the BScBA Program for the first time in October 2012. I teach the course that everybody loves to hate: Academic Writing. It’s not one of the exciting classes that includes field trips and project partnerships. It’s not even a hard class. It just requires a lot of time – and time management. My colleague, Sophia Butt, and I develop assignments in several non-fiction genres that reflect much of the process that will be required of the following year’s thesis-writing process as well as that of any academic writing. With pep talks and constructive feedback and breaking down the writing process into baby steps, students make tremendous progress and are proud of their final deliverable.
What makes you want to come back to Mikkeli and what have you learned from your visits to Mikkeli?
Snow! I’m from the South of the US where snow is a rare and wonderful thing. So I love the snow. I even love the darkness; it gives me a chance to clear my head. I am in Finland for only six weeks though, so the snow and darkness are an adventure. I understand that months and months of snow and darkness can be rough.
Anything about travel enriches our lives. And to have the opportunity to return to a place every year for a long time has altered the way I see my little corner of the world as well as giving me the chance to make so many new friends, to enjoy new food (who knew Finland would be so vegetarian-friendly?), and to discover cool new ways of doing things, like the dish-drying shelves over the sink.
There are so many things about Mikkeli experience that I look forward to, from passing the huge wooden pink house on the hill as the train pulls out of Helsinki towards Mikkeli to enjoying the Advent festivities and the President’s Reception on Independence Day to wandering around town on Saturday mornings. I look forward to being around people who are comfortable with silence and space, which is very different from the area that I am from.
Mostly though I love the relationships that I build with students. It’s great to return to Mikkeli and see the sometimes-overwhelmed first-years as confident second-years. It’s great to be included in student activities and to learn about their hometowns.
There are students that I stay in touch with beyond Mikkeli, too; I see them whenever I pass through Helsinki and some I even see when they find themselves in the States. Some even have children of their own now; I hope to teach them, too, in a few years.