Our adventure in the land of Finns, also called Suomi by the Finns themselves, started in our little hometown, Reşiţa, when we heard the good news that we had got accepted to a training course about circus pedagogy. In the land of a thousand lakes nonetheless. Days started to pass and we grew more impatient which each one of them until the big day finally came: the next memories are covered in fog and sleep in irregular patterns as we took our flights, first to Munich and then to Helsinki. That’s when I discovered the greatness of tomato juice, also the first time I flew from one side of the continent to the other.
We arrived in Helsinki and took a sneak peak at the magic of the training course as we met Georgia, a girl from Italy, and figured out it was going to be spectacular. Hours passed by in the little big city and finally we boarded the bus that was going to take us to our final destination. ”They have great highways in Finland… ” That’s what I thought while we were on the bus to Hamina, a little circular town by the sea that was going to host us for the days to come. Hours passed and we woke up from our crooked slumber at the local bus station.
We were travelling also with the participants from Greece: John and Georgia. Now we had to find the hostel (as we turned off the offer of the hosts to pick us up... great choice) and we made our first local memory: we got lost and so we wandered the streets for almost an hour until we finally found the hostel. Our jailhouse hostel. The nice host lady guided us to our rooms and as it turned out, John and I became “cellmates”.
The first night was devoted to welcoming the guests. And so, participants from eleven countries got together in the same room trying to find the likes and dislikes of the others. After that our first surprise took place: the girls from the local circus gym had prepared us a show, and not an usual one as it contained juggling with fire, fighting with fire, rope jumping with fire, so basically everything, but with fire. It was amazing! That first experience started a little fire in our eyes too as we wanted to do something similar.
The program was very well balanced with a morning block, an evening block and different activities scattered throughout the day. Each day, after training, we reflected about ourselves, about the team and about the whole experience. We were taught about many circus disciplines like: poi, juggling, diabolo, acro-balance (which I liked the best), devil sticks and many more and more importantly how hard or even ”impossible” it is to even start practicing with them (I am stating this with unicycling especially in mind).
Our Slovenian trainers helped us prepare a show in two days: it went smoothly with six different numbers in a gym full of blonde haired and blue eyed Finnish kids. The biggest challenge appeared after the show as we were supposed to teach all that we were taught to the children of the school. The interesting part was that the youngest group of children wasn’t able to speak English so we had to use our wits and imagination to teach them through other means. We succeeded and soon nostalgia took its place since it was our last evening. We talked a lot, giving our trainers some feedback and soon after it was departure time. At 3:30AM a group of eleven foreigners packed with lots of luggage traversed the town to the bus station, as loud as a helicopter squadron. The ride seemed like a second as we reached the airport and after a few more hours we ventured back into our “normal” lives but not without a lot of teachings, memories, friends and experiences.
After coming back I reflected for quite a while and reached the most important lesson for me: that I dislike the word ”home” as it is perceived by the vast majority of people. Now I understand that “home” is a state of mind, where you feel safe, where you feel relaxed and where you know you can count on someone if you need it. That’s why Hamina felt like home to me and it helped me grow and it still does whenever I remember the unforgettable people and experiences left behind in Finland.
”Circus pedagogy as a tool for youth work development” is a project of the Slovenian organization Cirkus La Bulle, that took place in Hamina, Finland, between 12-19 October 2016. The training course was aimed at youth workers who want to use circus pedagogy as a tool of their work with youngsters, funded through the Erasmus + Program.