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FAHC Announces Enrichment Classes

The Finnish American Heritage Center has announced its schedule of fall enrichment classes. Finnish One, Finnish Two, Beginning Five-String Kantele, and a class in historical archiving and recording oral histories will begin in late September and early October. Classes last eight-to-ten weeks, and cost 40-to-50 dollars. Participants may register at the first class session. Dates and details are posted in the Center’s press release below.

Finlandia LogoHANCOCK, Mich. — Finlandia University’s Finnish American Heritage Center has secured the talents of four local Finnish Americans to lead its fall 2014 community enrichment classes. This year’s slate includes two levels of Finnish language, a course on playing the 5-string kantele, and a class on how to conduct oral histories.

Finnish I is designed for people with little or no background in the Finnish language. The class meets for 10 weeks on Tuesday evenings at 5:30, beginning September 30. The instructor for this course is Dr. Hilary Virtanen, who has roots in Toivola and is now leading Finlandia University’s Finnish Studies program. Virtanen has taught in the FAHC’s enrichment program for several semesters now, and always tailors her classes based on the interests and skill levels of the students.

Finnish II, a class intended for folks with some Finnish language skill, will meet on Wednesdays at 6 p.m. for 8 weeks, with the first class on October 15. Highway Location native Randy Karpinen will be the instructor for the class; he is a recently retired U.S. Department of Defense employee who is proficient in not only Finnish, but also Russian and German. Having returned to the Copper Country and its strong Finnish connections only early this summer, Karpinen is eager to share his decades of language training.

In response to continued popular demand, Kay Seppala will offer a class in learning to play the 5-string kantele, sometimes referred to as the Finnish lap harp. Seppala is best known for her work with the children’s Finnish folk dance groups Kivajat and Loistavat, but has also generated regional interest in the kantele that resulted in the creation of the ensemble group Ilon Kaiku. This will be an 8-week class, meeting on Thursdays at 6 p.m., with the first class on October 2. The class is designed for people ages 13 and up, and no musical experience of any kind is necessary.

And, also on Thursdays beginning October 2, FAHC archivist Joanna Chopp will empower students with not only the basic skills, but also the confidence necessary to conduct oral histories. “Those enrolled will quickly realize that this important part of history is not as intimidating as it seems and anyone can – and should – partake in this activity,” Chopp said. The class begins at 5:30 p.m. and will continue on Thursdays for 8 weeks.

All enrichment classes will meet for about one hour each evening. Registration for 10-week classes is $50, while 8-week classes are $40 per semester. Interested students can register on the first day of class.

As in years past, another aspect of community programming will be the FAHC’s monthly Nordic Film Series, with movies showing on the second Thursday of the month at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. This is the 11th season for the Nordic Film Series, which will feature “Lapland Odyssey” on October 9 and “Oppipoika” on November 13. There will be no December film, and titles for January – April will be announced later.

Additionally, the Center will host regular Contra dance evenings, featuring local caller and MTU student Colin Hoekje, who has served as a caller for this easy-to-learn, family friendly dance style at large-scale events in Lower Michigan. The first of these dances is slated for October 1. No partner is necessary to take part, and the dance steps can be learned by anyone, regardless whether they have prior dance experience.

The FAHC’s community enrichment programming is aligned with the Center’s mission of preserving and promoting Finnish-American and Finnish culture in North America, and keeps with the roots of Finlandia University, which is the only existing institute of higher education in the U.S. founded by Finns. For additional information about any of the FAHC’s community offerings, call the Center at (906) 487-7549 or (906) 487-7302.

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