Students Participate in Finland Border to Border Ski Event with Learning in the World

Pictured above is Remy De Saint Phalle ’23, Amelia Vinton ’23, Rex Tuller ’23, Mika Latva-Koko, Steward Kristianson ’23, M. Houlihan, Anna Korczak ’24, and Roger Lu ’23.

Over Spring Break, a group of students and faculty mentors took part in a Learning in the World (LITW) trip to Finland, participating in a border to border cross-country skiing event called  “Rajalta Rajalle hiihto.”

In the week-long trip, students had the option to ski any or all portions of the 440 kilometers (273 miles) guided course, staying in hotels, motels, and heated cabins along the way. Students also had the option to tour the Finnish National Museum and local villages along the Russian border. 

Amelia Vinton ’23, a participant in the LITW trip, expressed her excitement about the bonding aspect of the program. According to Vinton, the trip provided an opportunity for students to connect with both each other and fellow skiers on the trail, while also providing a challenge for students physically and mentally.

“I really loved getting to know so many people from so many different places. Andover is so neat because there are tons of kids from all over the world. It was also really cool to interact with a lot of adults who come from all these different places and to just hear their stories about their lives… A lot of us found that the first few days were not only physically really challenging, but mentally really tough to be out there in the cold skiing for so many hours,” said Vinton in an interview with The Phillipian

According to the Tang Institute, the office that coordinates LITW, its trips — often taking place across North and South America, the Caribbean, and Europe — are designed to give students opportunities to explore more about themselves, humanity, and the natural environment from diverse perspectives. Alma Mark-Fong ’23 highlighted how the LITW journey brought valuable cultural enrichment, alongside being an athletic pursuit.

“We spent the first part of the trip in Helsinki, which is the cosmopolitan area in Finland. And so it’s more of the cultural aspect. [Dr. Mika Latva-Kokko, Instructor in Physics] is originally from Finland, so he was kind of our tour guide. And then the next seven days it was marathon cross-country skiing in a really rural area. So yeah, I think in some ways, it didn’t really feel like a break…We definitely did learn a lot about Finnish people and the culture,” said Mark-Fong. 

Anna Korczak ’24 expressed her opinion on the overall difficulty of the event. According to Korczak, the ski marathon proved to be challenging, yet also rewarding. 

“We averaged a little over a marathon every day, which was insane, over the course of seven days of skiing. We were with a big group of people, a lot of them were much, much older, and from all over the world. There were tons of people from all over Europe, and some from the U.S. and some other countries. It was just really neat to be able to get to know these people. And there’s a huge community around this event because a lot of people come back year after year and continue doing it.” said Korczak.

Mark-Fong expressed her gratitude for the trip and encouraged other Andover students to take advantage of provided LITW opportunities.

“More people should feel encouraged to sign up for Learning in the World Trips, especially as I’m on full financial aid. And I think that sometimes, kids, like myself, who haven’t really had the opportunity to travel around the world or do something crazy, a cross-country skiing marathon, might feel intimidated and not want to sign up for these things. But I really enjoyed it. And I’m really glad that I had this opportunity that otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to do outside of school,” said Mark-Fong.