My life is a series of great adventures and I have a new one to add to the list. Let me start by saying that I am eternally grateful for the opportunities in my life and for the people who help me to go after my dreams with vigor.

I recently received a phone call from my sister Shawn requesting my presence for a couple of weeks (she needed my skills for a project – and maybe she missed her little brother a little bit). She lives in Finland. Although she is an Architect by training, she found her niche in this foreign country by developing English speaking pre-schools. She now owns several schools, expanded into China, and is developing plans for other countries. There is more to this story and her long term plans are exciting but for now, I will just tell you that she is one of those people who gets things done. She asked me to come visit. I did. We got things done. This is a little story about that adventure.

The trip was scheduled with only days to prepare. The call, the plane ticket, the departure – all happened within two weeks.

Off I went on a big SAS Airbus plane at around 10pm Chicago time and peered down at several states, part of Canada, Greenland, Iceland, the North Atlantic Ocean, and on to Scandinavia. From over 30,000 feet, the northern world is a play toy world of shapes, water, ice, and snow cover this time of year.

chicago to Finland

The approximate route from Chicago to Tampere, Finland. (Google Earth)




For those of you who have not yet experienced international travel, there is a twilight zone effect as you fly east through time zones. Jet lag. Only a few hours into the first 8.5 hour flight, it was light outside again and by the time I reached my destination in Finland, it was 9 o’clock pm the next day.

Even before we landed, I was struck by my language limitations. With stops in Copenhagen, Denmark and Stockholm, Sweden I was eased into the cultural and language differences and although English is fairly common as a secondary language in many countries, I felt inadequate speaking only one language. The flight crew was kind and understanding. I am learning a new language.

After a total of about sixteen travel hours (including layovers), my sister retrieved me at the Tampere Airport and we headed for her home. I slept well and arose the next morning ready for work. Fortunately for me, the first day was an adventure day. We visited the schools where I met teachers and students. Thankfully, the little children already had a good grasp of English so we were able to communicate just fine. By the way, “Lee” is a funny name to children even in Finland. I’m not sure if that is good or bad.

The schools have the best record in the area for successfully teaching kids and preparing them for the international schools which require proficient English language skills for entry. She has a great niche. English speaking preschools with a concentration on virtues development. In addition to the English language, the children learn respect, kindness, love, and a host of other virtues from the age of 2 years old.

kids at school

A typical classroom at breakfast time





I learned a lot that day. How my sister created an amazing business venture that is helping children to add to their knowledge base while learning virtues.

I spent the next ten days working – but what was most impacting about the trip was not the things that I accomplished. It was the schools, and the kids, and my sister who created a way to change the lives of hundreds of children every day. She is using her gifts and talents to change the world in a positive way and that’s the most impressive part of this adventure.


Front windows of one school location





I enjoyed the trip and experienced some fun stuff including dinner in a rotating restaurant at the top of a tower with a view of the whole area. I chose an authentic Finnish meal including all sorts of tastes that I never before experienced. All with a rotating view. I also saw the beautiful landscape, and visited the famous donut tower for tea and a donut. Oh, and I worked too.

restaurant tower

The rotating tower restaurant






The trip back home – from East to West is much easier (much less jet lag sensation) and although I’m still not sure what day it is, I’m happy to be home to do my part to change the world for the better!

Embrace and and share your adventures with us!

Kiitos (Thank you in Finnish).




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