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You could call it Finnish-ing school

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Saturday morning Finnish language class at the Scandinavian Cultural Centre. Instructor Jukka Rislahti is on the far right in the front row. Assistant instructor Richard Castro is third from the right in the front row.

CHRISTINA HIEBERT Enlarge Image

Saturday morning Finnish language class at the Scandinavian Cultural Centre. Instructor Jukka Rislahti is on the far right in the front row. Assistant instructor Richard Castro is third from the right in the front row. Photo Store

I recently had the pleasure of sitting in on a Finnish language class on a Saturday morning at the Scandinavian Cultural Centre, at 764 Erin St.

The class, instructed by Jukka Rislahti, is casual and comfortable with the students and Rislanti all sitting at one table. There are no exams and no one fails. The students simply want to become more familiar with the language.

Jukka moved to Canada from Finland when he was 10 years old. In Finland, he spoke a local dialect which he still uses on occasion today. Richard Castro, who assists Jukka with instructing, has had an interest in Finland since he was a young child. He came across aspects of Finland in a book that intrigued him and from there, his interest grew.

The students in the class are there for differing reasons. Some of them grew up hearing their parents and grandparents speaking Finnish and are having a refresher from childhood. Some students have lived in Finland or they have visited often and want to gain fluency.

Others have partners who speak the language and would like to be able to communicate with their in-laws and teach their children the language at home.

Glenn Jones met his wife when she was a high school exchange student from Finland. His journey to learn Finnish has taken the past 20 years, as he’s been able to dedicate more time to the language at different times.

The Scandinavian Cultural Centre also offers language classes in Icelandic, Norwegian, and Swedish. If you’ve ever considered learning a second language and want to do it at your own pace in a fun and laid back environment, now is the time to begin your journey.

The Scandinavian Culture Centre is a bustling center with ongoing events such as Sunday brunches, guest speakers, and dance groups.

The centre is hosting an Ystavanpaiva Dinner and Dance on Feb. 14.

Ystavanpaiva in Finnish translates to "Friends Day." Finland adopted the idea of Valentine’s Day in the 1980s but with a twist. The day is to honour all relationships both platonic and romantic. As a result, it is the second-most popular day to send a card in the mail in Finland

For more information on the Scandinavian Cultural Centre, please call (204) 774-8047 or visit their website: http://www.scandinaviancentre.ca/

Christina Hiebert is a community correspondent for the West End. You can contact her at christina.hiebert@gmail.com

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