R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Erasmus+ meeting in Kato Achaia, Greece in May 2018


Kreikka ryhmäkuva opet

The final meeting of our two-year Erasmus+ KA2 project R.E.S.P.E.C.T. was held in the town of Kato Achaia,  Peloponnesos, Greece, from 1 to 6 May. All the teachers from Iceland, Germany, Poland, Gran Canaria and we Finns stayed in the nearby bigger city Patras and the Greek hosts drove us to the school in Kato Achaia in their cars (early) in the morning.


A view from the castle hill in Patras


King George square in Patras

On our first day we were welcomed by the two deputy mayors of Kato Achaia. Then we headed to a primary school where the school’s choir performed us a few songs. The singing was excellent and the choir had also been abroad and taken part in competitions.






The choir at the primary school in Kato Achaia

We had our meeting in our partner school, Geniko Lykeio Kato Achaias, which is a public senior high school. The school had a nice atmosphere and the students were very welcoming to us. And a fact that caught my eye was that all the floors in the school were made of marble as it is the common rock in Greece.


The parents of the Greek students taking part in the project had prepared us a feast of Greek homemade food. The school does not serve lunch as students and teachers go home to have lunch after school.


The next day after the meeting the students performed us Greek dances and in the end we teachers also danced with them (no pictures here).

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The last day of our stay was spent visiting the archaelogical sight in Mycenae and the beautiful town of Nafplion and the citadel up in the mountain.  The visit was a success and we had a great time in Greece together, thanks to our hospitable hosts and other partners! And since we would like to go on working together, plans for a new project are already under way.

Kopio_ WP_20180505_009WP_20180505_007WP_20180505_002IMG_0525


Erasmus+ KA2 R.E.S.P.E.C.T. meeting in Valsequillo, Gran Canaria in March 2018



Arrival at Las Palmas airport. From left: Noora, Delina, Ria, Pinja, Nana and Roni


Tuesday 27 February by Roni Ritarsola


The trip started rough, waking up at 6am, 6 hour flight with no breakfast, but I was excited to arrive in Gran Canaria. I can’t lie I was a little bit nervous as well. We met up with our families and the first thing I noticed was that the greetings are way different here. In Finland there are no kisses. I met my family’s mother, daughter and uncle. The dad was at work. The uncle took us to Valsequillo, the place we were staying at. It was a cute little village, which was a good change from Finland. We ate and then I met Maria’s (the family’s daughter) best friend, who is also named Maria. We hang out and I got to know them really well, for the first time meeting. Then we went to a  park where we met everybody else from the other countries. I did expect that there were going to be people that I wouldn’t like, but I was wrong. Everybody was really friendly and nice. I was pleasantly surprised. I talked with everybody about their countries, languages and backrounds. I am hoping that they liked me, too. After that everybody went to their homes. I ate and went to sleep. But I knew that this was a start of a great trip.


Wednesday 28 February by Noora Rämö



Today we were supposed to have a school day but because of a strong wind it was cancelled. I had a peaceful morning with my host family. At 11 a.m. we met people of the project at a Canarian girl’s house. Later in the day we went to Las Palmas with my host family. We had a beautiful walk at the sunny beach. I tasted a dessert called crepe, it was delicious. We also ate Canarian traditional food called ”potato omelet” and went on a pizza restaurant this day. All the food has been really good here this far. I went to the english academy of my host sister and I loved it! We were talking today about Finland’s education system and government. Everyone were asking me questions about Finland. At that moment I was really thankful to Maria for keeping us civics lessons in English! 🙂 at the end of the day we went to my host sister’s grandmom’s house where I met their relatives.

Living in a Canarian family has already taught me a lot about Canarian traditions and culture. When I hear them speaking Spanish, I would like to speak it better myself to communicate with the local people and my host parents and their relatives. In here it feels like English is my native language. I’m looking forward to seeing more of the country, people and traditions!


Thursday 1 March by Ria Saha


I.E.S. Valsequillo


Today we went to the school and started to do our Erasmus project. It went pretty well, because everyone got to do something with their groups. We had also big break  and we took a little tour in the town. The view was so beautiful and everyone was taking pictures. The weather was so perfect, it was sunny and a bit windy and everybody was enjoying that. In the evening we went to las Palmas city, and we did also little shopping there. Near the shopping centre was a huge beach, where everybody was enjoying the environment.

I felt that the day started very well, and everyone got on well with each other. My group was so nice to me and to everyone else. I was able to say my opinion about our project, and what we should add.

In the evening I saw the most beautiful sunset ever in my life and I took so many pictures of that with my new friends. I loved the day as it was.



Friday 2 March by Pinja Stålhammar


Today on Friday we had a second school day. We finished our projects; filmed videos and made the rest of our PowerPoint-presentations. During the schoolday we also had a little walk to mountains, it was very beautiful. Rest of the time we just hang out and played some ping-pong. At the end of the school day we presented our projects. There were also a few amazing dances and singing performances by some students.
The afternoon I spent with my host family. After school me and Vicky went home and ate pizza and just talked and chilled for a while. We also had a walk with Vicky’s dogs. Around five o’clock, when Vicky’s parents got home, we were supposed to go to some place in the mountains where is very nice view. But unfortunately when we were driving there, we noticed that it was so foggy that we couldn’t see anything so we turned back to the village. But views what I saw from the car were beautiful. After that we went to a cute little cafeteria and walked around the village. Then we drove to Las Palmas. There we looked at some sights and all that kind of things. For example we visited in Las Canteras beach, which is three kilometres long. We didn’t swim because it was already evening, but we took a lot of pictures. After we came back to Valsequillo me and Vicky went to see our friends from the project. We had a very nice evening, we danced, talked and ate. When we got home it was about half past one am. It was very nice day, like all other days too in Gran Canaria. I have really enjoyed this trip.
The first time when I heard about this project I was like I have to get in that project and I haven’t regretted it at all. I loved meeting new people from different countries and making new friends. I also loved the culture of Gran Canaria, how everyone was so much more sociable than in Finland. I also liked the beautiful nature of the island and of course I enjoyed the warm weather very much. I can’t say anything else but it was such a great week!



Saturday 3 March by Nana Yeboa-Mensa

My day started with a breakfast with the family I was living with. First we went to a beach in Mogan. It was my homestays favourite beach in the world, that what she said. After that we went to another beach called Maspalomas where we met some of the other groups. While we were there we went to watch the dunes and some swam. We were there about four hours or more. After that we went back “home” to have dinner. We stayed inside for an hour then we met with the others and went to Telde to watch the carnival, where people were dressed as different characters, animals and opposite genders. After that we went back to Valsequillo to buy some pizza and went to the park to eat with almost everyone. There we ate, listened to music and said goodbye to everyone who were there. And we ended the day by going to sleep.




Sunday 4 March by Delina Yonas Fissehaie


A fairwell with all the Finnish students and their host families and teacher Laura Tilsa

I woke up in the morning at 5:45 feeling so grateful and sad. I am so grateful and honored to be in this project. And I’m sad, because I will miss everyone from Gran Canaria, especially my host family who made sure that this week would be the best week for me.

I met so many interesting people, that were so nice to us.
When we were in the airplane going to Gran Canaria we talked with an air steward, his name is Jani, just like in our Spanish book.
We tried talking Spanish with him by saying all the words that we had learned in Spanish class. He actually liked us, as we liked him too. And when I asked him if i can buy a water that cost 3€, he told me to wait a minute and went to get me,Ria and Noora waters. When I tried to give him money, he said no and he touched my shoulder and smiled kindly as he gave the waters to us for free.
It happened twice that we got free water when we tried talking Spanish and our teacher got a free coffee, for the same reason. The people were the best part in this whole trip.

We had to be at 07:00 o’clock at the airport. We took one more time pictures with everyone and at that time we realized that it is time to say goodbye. It was so hard to say goodbye, but that doesn’t mean that we’re not going to see each other anymore, or I hope so.

I learned a lot during this project, especially while doing the project. I was so happy that my group’s project was about Kiva- method that we use in our school in Finland. And I was the expert one in that group. I learned a lot and had so much fun.

We arrived in Denmark at 15:00 o’clock, because our transit was in Denmark.
Our teachers had promised to take us somewhere to eat, and they did that. We went to a restaurant.
After eating we talked and played all together. And after the best school trip, it was time to go home.
We had so much fun in such a short time, and we also met a lot of people who became our friends.

I also believe that I learned more Spanish during this trip.





Emilia and Kamilla’s Diary of the Erasmus+ R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Meeting in Wörth, Germany





Day one, Wednesday;

 We arrived in Rettenbach around two or three o’clock. Our host families picked us up. I had freetime for a little while and then me and Sophia walked to the other village to meet up with Luisia and Emmi. After that we went to Luisia’s house and hanged around there for a while. Then her mother drove us to Sophia’s house and we ate dinner there. In the evening we went to a workout gym.

 Day two, Thursday;

My alarm went at 5:30 am and we left for school at 7 am. Müesli,  yogurt and tea for breakfast. We went to school by a school bus. It took about 20 minutes. At school we played all types of  ”get to know each other- games”, with all the other students from Iceland, Spain, Greece and Poland and Germany. It was quite a long schoolday, from 8 am to 4 pm. The rest of the day we sat in a technology class doing the project. Well, we kind of just sat around and chatted with each other because the kids from Spain in my group said that they’ll do the project in Gran Canaria.

In the evening we went to a welcoming party. All the German kids’ parents had prepared really delicious food.




 Day three, Friday;

We left for school at the same time as the day before and went to the same class. We saw all the students presenting their presentations about their home countries. At 11 am we went to Regensburg for a field trip by bus. It was a little town where we had two hours of freetime to walk around. It was a rainy and cold day.

 Day four, Saturday;

This was our only ”day off” during the trip. I woke up at 8 am and ate breakfast. Then me, Sophia and Elias went out for a walk to an open field to see deers. At 2 pm me and the whole family left for ice-skating. All the other exchange students were there too. We were there for a few hours and then we were split into two groups. After that we walked to a nearby town where we had applestrudel and hot chocolate.



11.11 Saturday.
We drove to Nürnberg with Luisia, Svenja and Birgitta.  We went shopping and ate at a local restaurant. Later we went to a trampoline park.

13.11 Monday.
Today we have school. We rode to school with the bus. Today we finished the presentations for the projects and gave  presentations about the countries. Later in the evening we went to skittle with all the people as a farewell party and said goodbye to all the people from the other countries since we were the only people who stayed there till Wednesday.

14.11 Tuesday
Today we went back to Regensburg to do some shopping and we also ate sushi at a buffet.

15.11 Wednesday
Today we had to say goodbye to our families and we headed off to Munich with a train and a bus. We did our last bit of shopping there and we flew back to Finland.




An interview with our Erasmus+ R.E.S.P.E.C.T. teacher guests


The second year of our Erasmus+ KA2 project R.E.S.P.E.C.T. has started with a meeting held in Helsingin Uusi yhteiskoulu, Finland in mid-September. Among hard work and the planning of this year’s activities we wanted to ask our international guests a few questions.

Team Gran Canaria Spain, Arabela & Carmen



What makes you do these international projects?

Our project coordinator, Carmen: “Because I am a masochist! It is a lot of work, but I do it because of the impact these projects have on people on all levels, because of the contacts between colleagues and personal growth. We are a good team!”

What were your first impressions about Helsinki and Finland?

Arabela: “Helsinki reminds me of Berlin, it is modern, peaceful and quiet, people are friendly. And it not as cold as I expected.” ( I must say, even the weather improved with the arrival of our guests.)

Favourite sight? Carmen and Arabela: “Porvoo! We could move here.”

Team Germany, Klaus & Franz


What would you take from Finland to your country and vice-versa?

Franz and Klaus: “I would take your school system. You don’t divide pupils as early as we do in Germany but teach everybody the same. Everything is modern and efficient here, you can pay everywhere with credit card and everybody speaks English.”

Franz: “I would give you our cheaper prices!”

Team Poland, Ewa & Barbara


Your first impressions of Finland and Finns?

Ewa and Barbara: “Beautiful airport, music at the airport train station, it is quiet everywhere.” “Finnish people are calm and speak with a quiet voice. The school is modern and well organised, all tools and equipment are good.

Favourite sight? Not able to decide 🙂  (Porvoo?)

Team Iceland, Rima and Victoria


Rima has spent eight months in Joensuu during her studies, and naturally she loves Finland. “Amazing country, friendly and orderly people.”

Favourite place? Allas sea pool and sauna.

Victoria is a Swede living in Vik, Iceland. Her first impression of Finland was, “This is like Sweden, my home! I miss home.” “I like your school food, it is healthy.”

Team Greece, Emilia and Vassilios


Emilia and Vassili: ” Finland is a green country, excellent airport, good transportation, roads are wide, great infrastructure and a friendly atmosphere in the school.”

Did you learn any Finnish during your stay?

Emilia: “TULOSTA”

Your favourite place during the visit?

Emilia: “Your school. I like your school.”

Vassili: “We love your country!”

Aaw, we love you too! (Team Finland)

Our trip to Poland

Three students from HUYK made a one-week trip to Birzca, Poland in March. The trip was part of our school’s Erasmus+ project called R.E.S.P.E.C.T. In addition to us there were teachers and pupils from Germany, Iceland, Greece and Spain.

During the visit we experienced all kinds of things from frying sausages around a camp fire to exploring the city of Krakow. We also rehearsed and performed a play together in a school talent show.

By Venla    (translation by E.R.)


The teachers had decided the pupils would perform a play together. The theme of the play was bullying and its consequences, which was also the theme of our project. At least one pupil from each country took part in the performance, and from Team Finland we had Ly and I.

We only had 30 minutes time to rehearse with the teacher and after that some two hours among ourselves. We had to speak English and work with almost total strangers. On the day of the talent show almost all the actors arrived late so we had no time for a dress rehearsal!

However, the performance was a success for everybody and I was very proud of Ly and myself. Many people in the audience started to cry. Right after the show we went for a hike in the forest.

By Tia   (translation by E.R.)


As a school trip abroad, we and other students from other countries felt a bit nervous and curious along the way to Poland. But after we left our first footprints on this Birzca land, and were welcomed to the Polish families, everything turned to a very interesting way. I could see that Polish people are maybe friendlier at first sight than Finns when every host came and gave us kisses on both cheeks. Polish are also very sociable and kind. We were treated extremely well and we were offered many Polish delicious traditional dishes. We joined the play, always tried to get to know more about others, we also visited national forest and 4 cities in just 5 days. But every single moment, since we started our journey, we found a feeling, named excited. This journey gave us many memories but also challenges, led us to learn new things, to get new friends and to enjoy our youth.

By Ly



R.E.S.P.E.C.T. member schools

We had our first project meeting in Vik, Iceland in October where we met teachers from all the schools taking part in the project. We were planning the activies we will be doing next.

Here are the five other schools in the project:

IES Valsequillo in Gran Canaria (a map)



Mittelschule Wörth in Germany (a map)



Geniko Lykeio Kato Achaias in Greece (a map)



Publiczne Gimnazjum Nr 1 w Birczy in Poland (a map)



Vikurskoli in Iceland (a map)



New Project!!

Our application for a new KA2 project has been accepted! So we will start a two-year project with schools from Spain (the project coordinator), Germany, Iceland, Poland and Greece. The name of the project is R.E.S.P.E.C.T. (Respectful European Schools Pursue Equality & Cultural Tolerance). The aim is to study and compare ways to tackle bullying, absenteeism, early school leaving and all kinds of discrimination at school. We will also try to find ways to help refugees, immigrant students and other students in disadvantaged positions to integrate.

This project will include students and their families, teachers and other school staff. There will be meetings in the participating countries when we get to present the work we have done in all the schools,  but we’ll also work online between the meetings. The first student meeting will be in Poland in March 2017, and the first teachers’ meeting where we’ll plan how to begin the project with our students is held in Iceland in October. There’ll be more news to come, stay tuned!


Erasmus+ Teacher Training course in Edinburgh

Course Programme
Introduction to Edinburgh and Scottish culture
Scottish People  ❤   and the Prize Giving Ceremony
Brexit and Scotland



I chose to attend a two-week teacher training course in Edinburgh, Scotland between 20th June and 1st July 2016. The full name of the course was “Effective Communication and Practical Teaching Skills with an Introduction to Scottish Culture”. The course was given by the language school Inlingua Edinburgh, which is a small school situated in the main street of Edinburgh’s new town. In our teacher training group there were only six English teachers, and the total number of students in the whole school during my stay was only about 20, so it was relaxed and we got to know each other, and all the teachers knew our names by the end of the first day I think! In our course there were two English teachers from Poland (upper secondary school),  one from Spain (nursery school), one from Germany (senior citizen education), one from the Reunion Island / France (secondary school) and I.

Course Programme

We had teacher training lessons every morning from 9.30 to 12.45, and after lunch we had our 90-minute spoken perfomance class, and the afternoons we spent exploring Edinburgh with one of the teachers as our expert guide. So our days lasted full eight hours and sometimes even more, when the afternoon tours took longer than expected :).

We had four Inlingua teachers training us in the mornings, so we were offered a wide range of teaching techniques and resources. We learnt about adaptable teaching, teaching grammar creatively, using Cuisenaire rods in language teaching, teaching speaking, listening and phonology, activating vocabulary, teaching reading and writing, how to teach grammar creatively, the use of games and drama, and the use of web resources in the classroom. On the last day of the course we had to plan a lesson and present it to the group.

We were also taught the Scottish national poet, Robert Burns, and we read his famous poem  “To A Mouse“, which he wrote in Scots, the Scottish dialect of English spoken in Lowland Scotland. We then had to write a poem of our own using the Burns stanza, which was quite fun. We also picked up a few words in Scots, such as:

Aye = yes (in every day use still)

wee = tiny, little (also in everyday use in Scotland)

loch = lake

glen = valley

och = oh!   (and there are many more)

I must say I just loved the Scottish accent! It was always different depending on the speaker, but everybody rolled their Rs, which made them “rhotic speakers”. All our classes were conversational, and we had lots of chances to speak English with native speakers. I did not say a word of Finnish in three weeks :).

Introduction to Edinburgh and Scottish culture


As I told before, we spent our afternoons visiting various sights in Edinburgh and its surroundings. I think this was something extra compared to other courses, as there was always a teacher with us who could tell us about the places we visited. And all explained in the beautiful Scottish accent ;).We also did quite a bit of walking around the city!

We visited the old and new town of Edinburgh, the Georgian house which is a town house from the late 18th century, the Royal Botanic Gardens (we learned that the thistle 330px-Milk_thistle_flowerhead is the national symbol of Scotland), The National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery of Scotland, the Calton Hill, the Scottish Parliament and Rosslyn Chapel and the Edinburgh Castle. The school also organized a pub night with teachers and we were given some expert advice on Scottish whiskies. We were not able to visit the Palace of Holyroodhouse because it is the official residence of  the Queen when she is in Scotland, and she was there to give some garden parties and open the Session of the Scottish Parliament.

All in all, I learned a lot about the history of Scotland, its kings and queens, the Jacobites, the history of the old and the new town of Edinburgh, about the Scottish politics and the Scottish national identity.

 Scottish People  ❤   and the Prize Giving Ceremony

I stayed with a family in Edinburgh, because I wanted to practise English and get a real insight into life in Scotland. The house was a 45-minute walk from the city centre and the school, and I bought a bus pass because the walk in the morning was uphill. The buses were quite slow on the busy cobbled streets, the ride to school took some 20 minutes. I stayed with Carolyn and her daughter Katherine, who were just lovely and made me feel like a member of the family!

I found all the people I met extremely friendly and polite. That is something we Finns could learn from the Scottish people. I did not hear any swear words either. It is considered very rude to swear in Britain, especially to people you don’t know well. I am going to tell my students that there is no need to sound like gangsta rappers in my classes 🙂


Katherine received four or five awards!

I had a chance to visit Katherine’s school, Drummond Community High School, with her mom and grandmother for a prize giving ceremony. Students received prizes for their achievement at school. The ceremony was for their families. There were a couple of speeches and musical perfomances, so it resembled our end of term festivities, but it was two weeks before the end of term and the beginning of summer holidays. There were prizes in different categories: “General award for effort and commitment” in various subjects,”overall year winners”, “100% attendance and excellent punctuality” but also “strive to succeed award” which was for those who had improved their performance. All the names of the students were printed on a leaflet, a copy of which I got, too. This ceremony made me think that in Finland we do not want to make a great fuss about good achievement at school, perhaps because we fear that it might cause bad feelings among those who do not get any prizes, but maybe the students find these prize giving ceremonies motivating instead?


Brexit and Scotland


During my stay the UK had the referendum whether to leave or remain in the European Union. I stayed up on the 23rd of June until about 3 in the morning and went to bed thinking that the remain side would win, but woke up to Brexit. It was a shock to many people in Scotland, as Scotland and also Northern Ireland had voted for staying in the EU. It remains to be seen if there is  a second vote on independece (indyvote2) after this.

The Scotsman on Brexit



Last, I did a little bit of travelling on my own and visited the Higlands and the Isle of Skye. I left a piece of my heart there ❤


by Erja Rantanen

… and Present Projects

Our school applied for EU funding for a new Erasmus+ KA1 project for school staff in February 2016. In the KA1 -mobility you can attend a course abroad, do job shadowing (you go abroad to a school and observe classes there) or you can teach in a foreign school. We were lucky and our application was accepted by the Finnish national agency CIMO. The name of the project is UYK-Uudistutaan Yhdessä Kansainvälisesti. The KA1-project can last 12 to 24 months. Ours is a one-year project. You can read more about KA1  here .

Three teachers will attend a course in the summer 2016 and one will do a job shadowing period in Sweden in the autumn. You can read our stories from the courses in the blog.

Our school was also asked to take part in another Erasmus+ -project which is called KA2 – strategic partnerships, along with five other European schools. This activity is like the previous Comenius-projects with several schools and involving both teachers and students. The project coordinator is IES Valsequillo in Gran Canaria, and the other participants are schools from Germany, Greece, Iceland and Poland. The project application (which was VERY long) was submitted to the Spanish National Agency in March 2016 and the name of the project is R.E.S.P.E.C.T. We will know in July whether it will be accepted… fingers crossed!