WELCOME TO GARY WOLFSTONE'S BLOG ~ As Christmas approaches, I marvel at the psychologists who caution that people are frequently depressed during December : ~ How can anyone miss the opportunity to take joy in hearing and watching people singing Christmas carols, watching people walking through the snow (or rain) with bundles of Christmas gifts, and looking forward to festive gatherings with friends and families around a Christmas tree?
Alas! I have disclosed my bias. Christmas is pure elation for me. The time I spent in Helsinki, Finland only reinforced my love for the Christmas season and the meaning of Christmas.
Truth is ... everyday is Christmas in Finland. I base this observation on Finland's Community Spirit, i.e., the value system that we must take care of each other. Every child in Finland is guaranteed a hot meal in school every day. I have always believed that you cannot learn from a teacher unless you love that teacher, and the teachers in Finland cultivate the love and respect of the Finnish children from the first day of school forward. The teachers are highly educated, they use a collaborative approach to education, and they keep the brightest students in the same classes as the slower students. It's all about teamwork and community spirit. A Finnish youngster can attend the university free of charge, and Finnish workers are encouraged to train and retrain and retrain ~ lots of formal course work and opportunity for upgrading.
The Finnish nurse in the photo below spent four years studying nursing with advanced training in midwifery. She completed the basic nursing training (the equivalent of a LPN in America) and then went on to complete training as a sairanhoitaja (the equivalent of an RN in America). During her youth, she had trouble making up her mind about a career and entered a veterinarian medicine program at age 19; she graduated four years later with a degree in veterinarian medicine and subsequently moved on to her nursing program.
Immigrants come to Finland occasionally because they appreciate the emphasis on education and the availability of free medical and dental care. Immigrants are well received if they get a job and enroll in a Finnish language course. In other words, the Finnish dream is available but one must be prepared to buy into the program and lifestyle with hard work and committment.