Fairport Harbor, Oh, 44077
What do you do when your guest speaker is ill? Well, the Finnish Heritage Museum has that covered with their “Guest Speaker Team” comprised of Donna Lesiacsek, Linda Penttila, Hely Perttu, Amy Moyer, and Anne Pohto.
Our guests who met at the Zion Lutheran Church Fellowship Hall (due to limited space at the museum for large groups) were entertained by our own Guest Speaker Team who were fresh off two recent presentations, one at the Solon Senior Center and the second at the Fairport Public Library. Anne, our Program Director, led the presentation by introducing the members and talking about their experiences. On Saturday, May 13, the group traveled to the NEOIMC Museum Day at the Cleveland Museum of Art and represented the museum through its speaker team as well. The ladies “set the coffee table” in true Finnish style, spoke about their areas, displayed the quilt, and revealed the contents of the “baby box”, a box sent to every new parent in Finland to help them begin this important journey of parenthood.
Amy Moyer, who sewed a quilt from Marimekko material, explained that the towns on the quilt “map” represented where our members come from in Finland. Anne Pohto shared the History, Culture and Beliefs, Holidays, Foods of Finland with the audience. Of great interest was that Finland is socially equal and that women got the right to vote in 1906 whereas the United States did not have the right for women to vote until 1919, a good 13 years later. The life expectancy in Finland for men is 78 years old and for women 81 years old. Once again, Finland was recognized this year as the happiest country in the world. Finns believe that “Less is More” and that it is better to buy quality rather than quantity.
Hely represents the Finnish refugees in our little community. She was born in Karelia and at one year old she and her family were forced away from Karelia by the Russians. She spoke of the Kalevala, an inspiration for so many. And as a highlight, Hely played a short piece on the Kantele.
We learned that Finnish children start school at age 7 and have no tests until age 16. They attend school from 9am until 2pm each day with 45 minutes of teaching/learning and then 15 minutes of outdoor breaks. In second grade they learned to make an apron.
No meeting is over until upcoming events are discussed. Presently, we have Virpi Buck teaching Finnish classes from 11-12 on Saturdays in the Amy Kaukonen room upstairs at the museum. We are excited to hear that our Cultural Gardens will soon have QR codes for visitors to use to hear about our exhibits whether a member is there or not and that on June 20th a huge bicycle group, GOBA, will receive NISU and coffee from our members at the park. A class from Shaker Heights is studying the Cultural Gardens and one student decided he would like to know more about the Finnish culture. This student will be making a physical display of what he has learned. We can’t wait for Juhannus on June 19th at the beach which is just down the hill from our museum. We will have a bonfire at 7 pm and musical entertainment by one of our members, Leonard Thomas.