Hanne Läppänen, a language instructor from Finland, recently enjoyed a two-week visit to the campus of Rend Lake College. Although she became familiar with the American community college system, she said it is the little things she learned here which will most benefit her own students.
Läppänen teaches English to those people who require a basic understanding of the language for their careers, and she specializes in teaching those involved with the culinary arts, hospitality management and other corporate fields. She was paired with RLC Culinary Arts Instructor Brian Kalata, who will visit Läppänen’s workplace in May 2006. Läppänen is an Area Coordinator at the Centre of Expertise for Food Development National Network in Joensuu, Finland.
During her visit, Läppänen enjoyed stays with other members of the Rend Lake College faculty and staff, including Sociology and Anthropology Professor Dr. Sue Tomlin, Architectural Technology Professor Rick Marlow and Distance Learning and Media Technology Instructor Karla Lewis.
“It is different to see America in person versus what you see on television,” said Läppänen. “Experiencing normal American life is at least as important as learning more about our careers. I think that is the point of this exchange.”
She said she enjoyed visiting shops and restaurants during her visit because these are the types of things which her students want to know about. “My students want to learn about American culture,” she said. But when it comes to everyday life, “there is not much difference between our people,” she added.
Läppänen spent a good portion of her time collecting material for her English lessons, such as menus, maps and other resources. She said she often took pictures at stores and was amazed at the variety Americans see every day.
While here, Läppänen also visited other areas, including St. Louis and Chicago. “In Germany, Frankfort has a skyline, but it is nothing like Chicago’s skyline,” she said.
Läppänen and nine others from Finland visited Southern Illinois as part of the exchange, which is coordinated by the Illinois Consortium for International Studies and Programs.
More information about Finland can be found at www.virtual.finland.fi. For a photo of Läppänen, please see this story on our Web site at www.rlc.edu/pressroom.