Rend Lake College is preparing to welcome another guest from abroad.
Paula Ahola, a tourism director from Finland, lands on U.S. soil on Saturday, Oct. 14, and will be staying at Liberal Arts and English Professor Rob Little’s home in Centralia.
Ahola is one of RLC’s overseas contacts in the ICISP Faculty Exchange Program.
An itinerary planned for Ahola’s visit to the U.S. includes a welcome reception at 3:30 p.m., Monday, Oct. 16, in the RLC Student Center. Ironically or not, it is the day Finnish films will appear at the International Film Day on campus. Faculty and staff are urged to come to the reception and welcome Ahola to southern Illinois.
Ahola has plans to sight-see in St. Louis on Sunday, visit RLC President Mark Kern’s farm in Ewing on Tuesday, eat dinner at Distance Learning and Media Technology Coordinator Karla Lewis’ home on Wednesday and attend the Student Art League’s Fall Art Auction at Pheasant Hollow Winery on Thursday.
Living on a cattle farm in Finland, any amount of culture shock expected to be experienced by Ahola will most likely be dismissed by her stay at Little’s rural residence and the fact that she annually entertains in-laws who travel to Finland from Minnesota, he said. He added that she last visited her Minnesota family in the early 1990s.
She is scheduled to attend Science Instructor Greg Hollmann’s stargazing session at Kern’s farm on Oct. 20, travel to Shawnee Forest on Oct. 21 and speak about Finland with Dr. Sue Tomlin’s Anthropology class on Oct. 23. Other plans include visits to Mt. Vernon and Carterville as well as social gatherings at the winery and Tomlin’s home. She may even have the chance to attend a Halloween Parade in Centralia before departing sometime near the end of October. Little said plans also include sight-seeing in Chicago.
Little is part of the International Studies Committee on campus. He said he decided to apply for the exchange program when there was an applicant shortage at the college.
Since he enjoys travelling to new places, Little was right at home putting in his bid for destinations such as the United Kingdom, England, Switzerland, Austria and Finland – where he will be staying with Ahola in May.
“We’ve had a number of instructors do this,” he said.
According to Little, Culinary Arts Instructor Brian Kalata and Architectural Technology Professor Kevin Weston went to Finland last year and retired RLC Architecture Instructor Rick Marlowe travelled to Switzerland through the exchange program. The guest from Finland last year stayed with Kalata, Little added.
The reciprocal nature of the exchange program makes it a good fit with Little’s take on travelling to new destinations.
“I think any time you get to connect with people from other countries, you get a better understanding of your own country and culture,” he said.
The two have been in contact via e-mail to discuss her visit to North America.
“She’s excited to come,” Little said. “She is a tourism instructor, so she is used to talking about travelling.”
Tomlin is the campus representative for the ICISP program. Faculty and staff interested in participating in the program and applying for an exchange partnership can contact Little or Tomlin. After applying, participants are notified whether a match has been found.