EAST MARLBOROUGH — Finland and Unionville got just a bit closer last week as a large group of Finnish students visited Upland Country Day School to celebrate the 35th anniversary of an exchange program between the school and schools in the northern European country — and two passions which transcend the language barrier, hockey and dance, too center stage.
About 80 representatives from Finland traveled the 4,200 miles to the school in southern Chester County to mark the 35th year of the school’s exchange program with Finland, dubbed The Friendship Forged on Ice. The group consisted of hockey players from TPS Turku, the most competitive league in Finland, dancers/gymnasts with Lahjan Tytot, an international dance team that competes in Europe and the US, and former Finnish exchange students and representatives from Turku, Finland.
Although there were many exciting moments during the visit, one memorable moment came when the TPS Turku Finland and Upland Boys hockey teams were invited to a Philadelphia Flyers game when they played the Florida Panthers. After the game, the boys were invited down to the locker room to meet Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen, a former TPS Turku player from Finland who spent time talking with the boys and signing autographs.
the Lahjan Tytot dance group put on an impressive performance at Upland, a dance interpretation of the fairy tale “Snow White.”
In addition to hockey games, the Lahjan Tytot dance group put on an impressive performance at Upland, a dance interpretation of the fairy tale “Snow White.” The delegation spent the week traveling the area, performing at area venues and celebrating the 35th anniversary.
Upland’s campus in the rolling hills of Southern Chester County is 4,200 miles away from Turku, Finland but each year, the distance is bridged by a friendship and bond formed more than 35 years ago. The program began with ice hockey as a vehicle for youth from Unionville and Finland to establish friendship and experience another culture when language is a barrier. Since the program began, more than 80 Finnish students have spent their ninth grade year at Upland Country Day School and more than 600 Upland students have traveled to Finland to play hockey and experience the culture near the Arctic Circle. Upland eighth & ninth graders will be traveling to Finland in March for the annual 10-day trip.
The Lahjan Tytot Dancers performed at Longwood Gardens in 2002, 2005 and 2007. The team consists of 31 Finnish dancers between 14 and 22 years old. The LahjanTytot website in English is http://www.lahjantytot.fi/in-english/ Videos of the dancers performing are at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-HeuPbq50c and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v+hqLdOWZgcbg
The Hockey Players website is http://hc.tps.fi/briefly_in_english The 25 players traveled the area, playing Upland and other Chester County teams before traveling with Upland for a tournament at Rumsey Hall in Connecticut.