We shall always have Jyväskylä


Written by Dr. Rimona Cohen, Beit Berl College

Edited by Tslil Farchi & reviewed by Marsha Hachmon

The invitation to PGM Seminar at Jyväskylä University came after more than two years of not leaving the country because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The journey was full of uncertainty and apprehension. Strange forms to fill out, PCR tests before, during and after the trip. I was both upset and excited. During the two days, we were first in Helsinki, the fears dissipated and together with my friends from Beit Berl College and Levinsky College, we went out to experience the city and taste the cold air and a new culture. For me this was a return to Finland for the second time because ten years ago I was in Helsinki for the first time at an international conference. And since then I have missed it and wanted to visit again.

After a long four-hour train ride, we arrived at Jyväskylä and the hotel on a blue silver lake. I opened the window, looked at the lake and the white bridge, and breathed fresh, cold air. In the dining room, we met a cheerful and diverse group, from Finland and Israel, within a few days we got closer and got to know each other better.

The workshop at the seminar, which was led by Hannu Heikkinen, was significant for me. He led and demonstrated the best guideline for mentoring, according to the PGM approach. Everyone was asked to prepare before the seminar started an activity or presentation that would express what a the optimum PGM would be for him/ her. This is how I got to experience a painting workshop led by Osnat and significant personal stories. I chose the character of Snufkin from the Moomins series because I saw in this character qualities  which want as a mentor, Things that I lack, in mentoring in particular and in life in general, and I would like to have more of them …

Snufkin is a philosophical vagabond who wanders the world fishing and playing the harmonica. He carries everything he needs in his backpack, as he believes that having too much stuff makes life overly complicated.  I admire his lightness and his ability to settle for little.

Snufkin is easy-going and carefree, and enjoys thinking about things. He always comes and goes as he pleases. He has plenty of admirers in Moominvalley, especially among the smaller and more timid inhabitants. I wish I could think more like Snufkin and do less. His character is someone who lives the here and now and does not worry, which is something I would want more.

Snufkin meets every new person and event with curiosity and a warm heart. He enjoys spending time with the Moomins in Moominvalley, but in November he always goes south for the winter, only returning to Moominvalley in the spring. Snufkin’s ability to meet each person and event with curiosity and a warm heart is, after all, an outstanding starting point for mentoring. Snufkin loves people but can also live in solitude, he has wonderful autonomy and he is fully self- monitoring. These are important traits for the mentor and traits that a mentor should demonstrate and encourage. His ability to wander lightly and be flexible is something I lack.

Finally, I share with you a short clip that includes some of the sights and experiences we had at Jyväskyla.

Written by: Dr. Rimona Cohen, Beit Berl College

4 Comments. Leave new

  • Thank you Rimona for sharing this,
    It was a very special seminar and I remember the most the discussion of being a (new) teacher in Finland which included perspectives of teacher autonomy, induction, and mentoring, with expert speakers including a Finnish principal and two teachers.

  • Dear Rimona,
    You put it beautifully! Such a poetic description of a very meaningful and enriching journey. I belive it was an opportunity to make new paths of thinking about mentoring and, if I may, new paths to ourselves as well. Thank you for that!

  • Alona Forkosh Baruch
    December 15, 2021 2:25 pm

    Rimona, you rock!
    What a memoir from the amazing Jyvaskyla!
    The face to face meeting gave the project an added value which you so thoughtfully expressed in your post: a mixture of academic and social benefits. Thanks so much! ❤️

  • Alona Forkosh Baruch
    January 7, 2022 10:13 am

    Rimona, this is a wonderful documentation of our experience in Jyväskylä! So personal, yet so precise in the capture of the general feeling, of gratitude that we are a part of such a wonderful project!
    The seminar was so inspiring, personally and professionally, especially the encounter with the Finnish participants: members of the project and practitioners who shared their thoughts with us. I had hoped we could enter some schools, but COVID… yet, we actually made it to Finland and back!


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