THIRTY YEARS AND STILL GOING STRONG!

TANYA AND HER BIG CAKE, OR "KAKKU"!

TANYA AND HER BIG CAKE, OR "KAKKU"!

I’m breaking away from the usual show blog stuff today to take a moment and pay respectful tribute to a Great Finn.  I had the honor to take part in a special ceremony last night at the Westwood High School Auditorium congratulating Tanya Stanaway of Ishpeming for her 30 years of teaching Finnish language classes in the Negaunee-Ishpeming-NICE schools.  Well-deserved praise and recognition was heaped upon the ever-humble Tanya for the time she has taken out of her personal life to teach as well as the effort waged by her to organize and stock the materials for 30 years worth of classes.  Finnish is a difficult language to master and it is even more to teach in an effective manner.  But Tanya has developed an easy-going and comfortable style that has connected with students of all ages.  Well done, Tanya!!

THE FUTURE LOOKS BRIGHT!!

TANYA AND THE FUTURE OF THE FINNISH LANGUAGE.

TANYA AND THE FUTURE OF THE FINNISH LANGUAGE.

One of the things I noticed immediately when I arrived at the auditorium was the sound and excitement of small, young children.  This made my heart feel good, because, unfortunately, I have attended and taken part in many Finnish-related events where there have been NO children present.  This is not by choice.  It’s by virtue of the fact that the Finnish-speaking contingent of folks here in America (and more importantly in the U.P.) is shrinking due to natural attrition.  In other words, the language is dying off as the generations pass on.

Tanya, of course, has done something about that.

Over the past thirty years, she has educated over 500 people who have taken (or still continue to take) her Finnish language class.  This is a monumental task that does deserve recognition.  But also deserving to be recognized are the 500 people that chose to learn a challenging language that for most involved is a link to their culture and heritage.  Now as I saw the little ones recite Finnish poems and songs last night, I felt good knowing that Tanya was doing her part to keep the Finnish Fires burning.

FINN POWER!!

As someone who had the luxury of growing up in a Finnish speaking family and actually knew that language first, I realize what a special gift I do possess.  I wanted to make sure that I made the time to attend and say a few words on Tanya’s behalf.  If you see Tanya out there some time soon, hoist your kahvikuppi and piece of pulla and say, “Good Job!”
She works hard for the Finns and I tip my proverbial lakki to her!

Congratulations, Tanya Stanaway!!!

-Walt