Pierre comes from Stellenbosch, South Africa. He is currently doing Theatre and Drama at the University of Stellenbosch, which is one of the partner schools of Helsinki Summer School. In Helsinki, he participated in Intercultural Education and Communication, Moving on.
Pierre had been looking into different summer schools but chose to come to Helsinki, because this was the only one to offer a course of education and communication. His own university does not do courses of intercultural communication. The Helsinki Summer School course is also relevant for his thesis on festivals. “The course has discussed certain theories and methods that were new to me and has identified some researchers that I wouldn’t have known otherwise.”
“The best part has been working and interacting with the people, being able to talk with the course mates and teachers, and meeting people. This wouldn’t have been possible without the Summer School. For example, there was an interview with one lecturer by Skype, and one of the teachers was actually a teacher of Mathematics. The course has broadened my field of study and that’s why it would’ve been nice if the Summer School had been a bit longer.” Pierre finds that the most rewarding thing about the course is that he has been able to expand his knowledge, broaden his educational horizons and learn things that he could not learn in South Africa.
Besides the course, the best experience of Pierre’s stay has been living in Eurohostel, meeting and spending time with new people from different countries. He has also made the most of the Summer School’s social programme: during the Baltic Dinner Sea Cruise, for example, the students made a stop at Kaunissaari, and on the Wildlife trip, they had a chance to go to the sauna and swim. “Actually the best part of the whole Helsinki Summer School has been the balance between education and the social programme.”
Pierre has been surprised to find that he loves the sauna. Another surprise is that Helsinki reminds him of Cape Town! “I thought that Finnish people would be more conservative but I’ve seen a lot of diversity among the people.” There are also similarities between the University of Helsinki and Stellenbosch: “they are working in the same way and the people are partying also in Helsinki”.
Pierre wanted to become a Helsinki Summer School Ambassador because he wants to share his experience with fellow students. “I’d like to show them what it’s like to study and live here and I want them to be prepared for Helsinki Summer School and know more about it.” When he gets back to his own university, he will post a blog and help the students with questions about the Summer School. “I will talk with them, give them more information and hands-on examples about how things work here in Helsinki, where to buy things, how much they cost, what to bring with you, which things are accessible, how to travel in Finland and so on.”
The big reason for Pierre to become an Ambassador was also that he wants to return to Helsinki. “I’d like to come back to Helsinki to do another Master’s degree and then postdoctoral studies.” He explains that South Africa has few festivals and that during his stay in Helsinki he has already been part of many. He would like to work for festivals in Finland and to pick up the experience and bring ideas to South Africa. He wants to come back to Finland also because of the high level of education. And perhaps to do some teaching of his own.
Pierre encourages students to take part in the Helsinki Summer School: “You’ll never regret coming here, because you’ll have an experience of your life. You’ll get friends to last your whole life if you just keep in touch. You can never forget this experience that you will get educationally, culturally and socially.”
Text by: Martta Haveri
Photo by: Helena Hämäläinen