Interview with Dennis Londo - Teaching the diverse group

Dennis Londo
Lecturer at the DIAK,
Degree Program in Social Service,
Diaconia University of Applied Sciences

Dennis tell me little about your professional background?

Actually I got the job at DIAK when I was working for Espoo city council during my studies. I used to work for the refugee reception center in Espoo. DIAK advertised the position, it was in English so it was easy for me to spot it, and I applied for it. My wife supported me in applying for the position. I was really surprised when I was invited for the interview. The interview was very positive and few days they called me that I had gotten the position.

How is the student body in your program? How many of the students are from Finland and how many come from abroad?

Well it is difficult to say as the intake varies from year to year but generally speaking our classes are most diverse compared to the other universities with Social Service degree program.

What is your experience in teaching the diverse group?

Actually my experience is excellent as in the process you learn a lot and there are also challenges. The challenges come from the fact that the students come from different type of educational background they have used to different type of learning styles and also they have different type challenges outside the school context. You have to take all of them into consideration and besides being a teacher you are also a career guidance counselor. You are also a support person for the students and you have many different roles.

What have you done teaching or planning wise to meet the needs of these diverse learners? How do you teach?

Actually the planning is there but suddenly you may realize in the middle of the teaching that some students are not following you so you may to change the teaching style. You may have to support somebody to catch up others.

Are the students studying any Finnish language?

Yes, and we are trying to develop our Finnish language program all the time. The Finnish language is a challenge in the internship program , and it is more difficult to find work without Finnish language. We have tried to improve with the Finnish language studies and also if there are students who are interested to study language outside the school context we have tried to help them.

How do the students find work internship places?

It is a challenge. We have partners who are always willing to take the students but as the number of the students is getting higher there are not enough internship places and the students do not speak Finnish, and their networks are limited so we as teachers we have to support and help them to find the places. It is not easy as you may spend hours in trying to find the places.

What kind of places have you found?

Some youth programs, immigrant associations and projects. Different settlements have been really supportive towards our program even if the students do not speak Finnish.

How about after graduation? Do you have any idea if they stay in Finland, are they interested to stay and how have they found employment after the graduation?

I don’t have statistic and almost all of the people who have stayed are working, and even in a public system in hospitals. There are some few who are working in the some organizations.

How do you advice students in their processes of trying to find job in Finland?

Actually the tips we try to give for them is to take their studies and internships very seriously as they will need recommendations from their supervisors. That is the only arena where they can show their skills. Secondly, they need to know what they want, and also that everything is possible if they play their part.

How would you describe the Finnish work life?

When you are working people tend to look at you that this your way of doing the work because you have also worked in your own country. This is not the case and for example for me I have all my working experience in Finnish context. I actually think that there are so many people who do not have working experience in their own country. All the experience they have is in Finland but because they are visible minority people think that maybe he or she does not know the working culture here in Finland.