Saturday, December 8, 2012

A Visit From a Finnish Fulbright Family

(Pictured from left:  Iiris Sydanmaanlakka [16], Bryan, me, Olavi Sydanmaanlakka [father], Otto Sydanmaanlakka [11], and Saana Sydanmaanlakka [14]. The Fulbright Scholar, Marianna Sydanmaanlakka, was taking the picture [see her picture below].) (Honestly, this is not how Saana's neck looks in real life - but it seems to have become so in the virtual world of digital images.  [This image was not Photoshopped!])

Marianna Sydanmaanlakka (the mother in the hat below) is a school counselor in Finland and she and her family are living in Baltimore, Maryland  on a Fulbright grant for 4 1/2 months.  I wanted to extend a little American hospitality to this family so after meeting them at the Fulbright orientation in August I invited them to visit me in California.  This picture was taken during their first trip to the Pacific Ocean.  The entire family danced and spun in the sand and giggled with the experience - and then told Bryan and me we were "boring" because we weren't as exuberant as they.

The Finns will return to their US home (since August) in Maryland tomorrow, and then to Finland in about ten days.  I think they're ready to go home but they've had a marvelous time.  When I met them at the Fulbright orientation in August the children barely spoke English - and now they speak fluently.  The family carries with them so much joy, so much of a sense of wonder, and a genuine desire to learn about other cultures.

I love our new friendship!

P.S. I'll be moving to Finland in 25 days.  :)

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