Reflections on Eritrean visit to Joensuu and SciFest:

Joensuu has showed its best side to our visitors, as our Eritrean friends were kind enough to bring the sun along with them. We have had a few very inspiring days together. New bridges have been built and existing bridges were strengthened. While we have learnt a lot from our visitors I also believe they have benefited a lot from coming to Finland. One of the highlights was that they could experience the spirit of SciFest where learning by doing is manifested through the wide number of workshops which to a large extent are driven by young talented scientists representing the future. The SciFest allows even us adults to be playful and adjust to the curious mind-set displayed by the 15000 children visiting the festival. As the festival attracts people from all over with an interest in science it also enables establishing a lot of new contacts. For three of our visitors it was the first time to visit Joensuu and Finland. Time was optimized for them to have a chance to also experience a bit of Finnish nature, history and culture apart from the many meetings and training sessions organized during the visit. In the same way as our visit to Eritrea has enriched/inspired and changed us, we also hope that their visit to Finland has done the same. My sense is that through our travels within the project we are achieving a better understanding of each other as individuals and also the contexts we come from. I believe this will strongly benefit the continuation of the project and further collaborations.

Below in this text Alem Habte from Ministry of Education and Teklay Tesfazghi from EIT are giving some of their reflections on the visit so far.

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– As part of the cooperation partnership between the University of Eastern Finland (UEF) and Eritrea Institute of Technology (EIT) on ICT4EEDU, I travelled to Joensuu, Finland, for a working visit from 12/05/2016 to 21/05/2016, along with three other colleagues from EIT (Samuel, Teklay and Rediet). Our trip was scheduled to match with an important Finnish annual science festival, SciFest, which was organised by UEF and Joensuu Science Society which attracted participants from within and outside of Finland. Thus, the first three days of our working visit also involved attending the SciFest activities and presentations alongside the other formal project activities and board meetings. The SciFest events were inspiring and gave us the opportunity to explore and try out actual hands-on practices on processes and products of research in science, technology and innovation.

The Joensuu Arena, where SciFest was hosted during 12-14 May 2016, was packed with participants and visitors of the three-day annual science festival, especially students from across Juensuu and other parts of the country. For us, SciFest was an important learning experience in that it was a living lab where people do not only observe but can interact and participate in hands-on experiences, as we also did. Most importantly, the event was organised in such a way that it catered the interests and needs of all age ranges from young children to the elderly. But most importantly, it mainly focused on involving as many students as possible. This is an important means of exposure for the young generation in helping them to relate theory with practice and also inspire them to develop interest in science and technology.

These exciting and inspiring experiences were also accompanied by many more joyful social events. Thanks to our hosts – Marcus, Ilkka, Juha, prof. Erkki Sutinen and the rest of the UEF team, we had many memorable social events and field trips with typical Finnish barbecues, Saunas (including sauna boat) and the like. Going to Koli and hiking up the forest hills overlooking lake Pielenen was just breath-taking. The open-air museum in Lieksa was also another wonderful site of historical and socio-cultural heritage clearly depicting the Finnish society’s life in previous centuries.

Alem Habte, Eritrea

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– My name is Teklay and I came to Finland together with my colleagues (Samuel,Alem,Rediet)  from Eritrea to attend the SciFest event and participate in the board meetings for the project ICT4EEDU.  The project is one of the ongoing projects funded by Finland to strengthen the human and infrastructure capacity of Eritrea Institute of Technology (EIT) to create and distribute electronic learning resources. I am the Acting Dean of the College of Engineering and Technology, which is one of the three colleges in EIT. My involvement in the project is as an expert in the implementation of the activities of the project. This trip is set as one such activities of the project. We reached the beautiful city of Joensuu early morning of Thursday May 12, 2016. Guided by our project coordinator, Dr. Marcus Duveskog and also accompanied by Dr. Ilkka Jormanainen, so far, besides the board meetings, we have met and had a chat with many people In UEF that share with us their experience in relation to education, which I find it very important, and even we had some dialog with some of them putting our perspective of the educational technologies impact in improving quality of education. Besides this, we had visited different departments in UEF and it is quite a good experience to see a very nicely designed Library and Laboratories in the University. With every chat that we had with professors in the UEF, we get an idea how delivery of education could be improved using educational technology.

On the fun side of the trip, we have been invited by Prof. Erkki Sutinen to his cottage in Koli and the place is so amazing which we have enjoyed it a lot. We are grateful for the hospitability that we received in his place. Another amazing adventure that we had is an invitation from Mr Juha Eskelinen that we went for picnic in his boat with Sauna being served within the boat and we jumped to the river 3 or 4 times in between the Sauna serving which is really an amazing experience.

All in all I would say my trip to Finland has been an amazing experience that definitely will have a positive impact on the way I see how education should be handled for the best output. 

Teklay Tesfazghi, Eritrea

 

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