Migration – a uniting theme for a Time Travel

My village, like most of the villages south of Vasa, Finland, has an association dealing with the local cultural heritage. Except for collecting old objects in our museum we organize activities for young and old. In the spring we invite children in kindergarten to meet elderly people, 80 plus. Also the grade five pupils come to our museum, to talk about interesting people from the past, old customs and items and we arrange Time Travels for them.

But for pupils in secondary school there has been nothing! In the area there are four cultural heritage associations. Last autumn we invited the chairmen to a discussion with the history teachers at school and The Ostrobothnian Children’s Culture Network BARK. We decided to organize a Time Travel for secondary school, to the year 1903 when the emigration to America from our region was enormous. The 86 pupils, grade 8, age 14, were divided into two Time Travels, one day for each Time Travel. We had seven activities; each of the heritage associations was responsible for one, BARK for one, a teacher another and in the last activity, playing old games, we shared responsibilities. It was up to each association to find people from their village to lead and also the items needed. Everybody was eager to join.

We applied for funding to be able to carry out the two Time Travels. And we got the funding!

Two weeks before the Time Travel all stakeholders met at the open air museum to be acquainted with the area, the buildings and with each other.

We spent two interesting days at the open-air museum! The discussions with the pupils were intensive, and the pupils were old enough to understand different problems facing emigrants. In this school there are also pupils from foreign countries, for instance from Burma, Thailand and Russia, and we wanted them to learn what it was like in Finland in those days. A mother told me afterwards, that they had never discussed emigration and relatives at home, the way they did after the Time Travel!

This cooperation will continue. Every autumn, the four associations, together with the secondary school and BARK, will arrange a new Time Travel for the pupils, grade 8. We want to meet and share our knowledge of old customs with the new generation, to make them aware of the cultural heritage and of migration, now and then.

Margareta Björkholm, Petalax Cultural Heritage Association, Finland