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JULY- AUGUST 2024
The Happiest Classrooms on Earth
The nations of Iceland, Norway, Denmark, and Finland consistently exchange positions at the top of the World Happiness Report, an annual study that has been evaluating global happiness since 2012. Remarkably, Finland has maintained its position as the happiest nation for six consecutive years. This raises the question of what specific factors lead to the high levels of happiness observed in this region of the world. We will explore some of those foundational elements that may cultivate a culture of happiness in our classrooms and beyond, including exploring the ideas of autonomy, wellbeing, and the “no dead ends” policy, and discuss the role that relationships, and the outdoors play in our pursuit of happiness.
Main Program: Finland
August 3rd-9th (8 days); $1850
Finland is not only known for its saunas, hundreds of thousands of lakes and heavy metal. Students and teachers all around the world are increasingly learning about it in the context of education. Finland’s schools have astounded many with their top performing scores, while employing an approach to schooling that some call “unorthodox”. Schools here are known for their high levels of trust and equity, lack of standardized tests, long outdoor recess, minimal homework, shorter school days, and minimal pressure to perform.
It’s also one of the great economic success stories of the 20th century: within just a few decades Finland was able to lift itself out of generational poverty that had spanned centuries under foreign rule and become a world leader in diverse sectors. Learn what role education played in the shift from an agrarian to a knowledge based society and how those priorities are still at work today.
August 9th-11th (3 days); $865
The magical, northernmost area of the Nordics, Lapland, is known for the midnight sun, wandering reindeer, endless views of the Northern taiga and on the very tip of the continent of Europe, endless, windswept hills of tundra. We will fly to Rovaniemi, the “capital” of the Lapland area and learn about indigenous Sámi culture and crafts and the importance of dual language immersion in local schools in keeping the Sámi language and culture alive.
Sweden & Estonia
Visit the famous Vasa Ship museum
Explore Gamla Stan (old city), including the Royal Palace, the Nobel museum, and the Drottningholm Castle and Gardens
Take a cruise on a large ship to Estonia across the Baltic Sea.
Explore the city of Tallinn, with its incredible medieval Old Town (a UNESCO World Heritage Site)
Visit an old catacomb under Tallinn.
Learn about KGB history during the Cold War at the KGB museum
Explore a state-of-the-artl nature exhibit center at the Nuuksio national park
Visit the design district
Shop the famous farmers market
Explore the Suomenlinna island fortress (a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Helsinki)
Tour one of the oldest stone castles in Europe
Experience a traditional Finnish sauna on a lake
Cross the Arctic circle
Visit a reindeer farm and participate in a Lappish initiation rite
Drop by Santa’s workshop and meet the legend in person
Learn about indigenous Sámi crafts
Ride with an Arctic dog sled team and interact with the dogs
Visit Arktikum, a state-of-the-art museum of the Arctic North
Note: Details on the itinerary may still change
Sweden & Estonia
June 29th-August 3rd (7 days); $1650
The Venice of the North, Sweden, presents a Nordic harmony of history and modernity, with culture, architecture, and art that spans the era of Vikings to ABBA, from kingdoms and empires to pop music and eSports. Join us in Stockholm, as we enjoy museums, landmarks, food, and pop culture, as well as learn about how community organizations are empowering a growing immigrant population of students.
Estonia, currently a world leader in cloud-based educational infrastructure, has seen a dramatic improvement in student academic achievement. Learn more about Estonia's efforts to improve digital literacy in the country and how this has facilitated greater education and economic development across this former Soviet state's society. Stroll through the streets and take in the culture and sites of the beautiful, historic city of Tallinn.
All interested educators, administrators and community leaders are encouraged to apply. Non-educator guests will be considered based on availability. An additional fee of $150 for non-educators will be charged to cover additional expenses.
Full Program: July 29th - August 11th (14 days)
Sweden & Estonia pre-trip (6 days)
July 29th - August 1st: Stockholm, Sweden (4 days)
August 1st - 3rd: Tallinn, Estonia (3 days)
Finland main program (7 days)
August 3rd - 7th: Helsinki, Finland (5 days)
August 7th - 9th: Espoo, nature center and spa hotel, Finland (3 days)
Arctic Lapland post trip (3 days)
August 9th - 11th: Arctic Circle, Rovaniemi, Lapland (3 days)
Our full program begins in Stockholm, Sweden and ends in Helsinki, Finland.
Finland main program: $1850
Sweden & Estonia pre-trip: $1650
Arctic Lapland post-trip: $865
Finland & Sweden and Estonia pre-trip package: $3350 (savings of $150)
Finland & The Arctic Lapland post-trip package: $2615 (savings of $100)
Full package: Finland & Sweden and Estonia & Arctic Lapland: $4065 (savings of $300)
*EARLY BIRD SPECIAL:
For applying before NOVEMBER 1st we will offer a special discount
of 10% off the entire package.
*For people applying after the application deadline (if space is still available), we may need to add an additional 5-10% fee over the program cost, to offset the higher prices of late bookings.
Shared accommodations, most meals and program activities (including educational visits, sightseeing and entrance fees), local transportation and transportation (including flights) between programs are all included in the selected program price.
WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED
International airfare to Northern Europe, airport transportation to and from our meeting and ending locations, some meals, travel insurance, add-on or upgrade options that may be selected (including single rooms) or any covid-related testing costs are not included.
Early bird special: November 1st
Priority consideration: January 15th
Final deadline: March 1st (if spaces are still available)
Zoom interviews will be held starting mid-November and through mid March and all selection decisions will be made by March 15th. A program deposit of $250 for each leg of the program will be due upon acceptance. Program balance must be paid in full 2 weeks before departure.
Questions for dialogue
Considering the pivotal role that happiness plays in educational environments, what foundational elements contribute to cultivating a pervasive culture of happiness in our classrooms?
Considering the substantial influence of outdoor environments on well-being and happiness, how might we integrate nature-centric elements into learning spaces, particularly in urban settings where access to green spaces is limited?
As we strive to foster supportive and nurturing educational communities, what roles do broader community networks play in fostering the resilience and well-being of schools and youth populations?
How can we empower our students to nurture a sense of ownership and preparedness to thrive in a constantly evolving world?
How does cultivating a culture of trust, permeating all facets of a school community, correlate with enhancing positive behavior and academic achievements, and what strategies can be employed to nurture this from the grassroots level?
How can we instill a love of lifelong learning and curiosity in students starting in early childhood education?
With societies becoming progressively diverse, how can we implement more inclusive approaches and promote an atmosphere of mutual respect and understanding?
Join us on our 2024 Nordics program (Finland, Estonia, Sweden, Norway) as we explore the above questions and more with fellow educators, both local and international.
WHY PEOPLE ARE TALKING
ABOUT FINNISH EDUCATION
"Finland’s experience shows that it is possible to achieve excellence by focusing not on competition, but on cooperation, and not on choice, but on equity."
Health and Safety
It is GEA’s goal to always navigate our programs safely and comfortably with our participants and partners in mind. We believe the benefits of travel outweigh the discomfort and possible uncertainty of travel, and also that they can often be appropriately managed. GEA will be doing everything to help our participants feel secure and comfortable. There are also many ways you can personally manage a safe and happy travel experience and GEA will help remind you along the way.
Still Have Questions?