Meet our staff: Melanie Kirwa


Melanie Kirwa works as the English Language teacher at HAMK. But that’s not the whole case – check below what other things she does! And did you know that Melanie writes children’s books also?

What are your areas of expertise?  What do you teach at HAMK

As the English Language teacher at HAMK, I would definitely say my expertise lies in all things English!  I teach English courses to first and second year students, as well as Organization Communication and Finnish Culture to the exchange students who come to study with us.  I also play a substantial role in the thesis process as I teach academic writing and have thesis language seminars with the students.  In addition, this year I am Co-Teacher Tutor for our first year students and will be the Teacher Tutor for the students who come to study with us next autumn.

How did you end up at HAMK?  What is your background in work life?

My undergraduate degree is in English Literature and Cultural Anthropology, and the anthropologist in me has always had a keen interest in learning about people, cultures and diversity.  This of course led to me being an avid traveller, but in order to do so, I needed to make money!  I decided to get a certificate in TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) so that I could work and travel at the same time, and realized that I felt most at home in the classroom.  This meant more studying and I completed my Master’s Degree and Licentiate Diploma in TESL.

For a part of my career I worked for a language school in Finland called Linguarama and taught English to business professionals.  When Linguarama closed I opened my own company and worked for myself, teaching in practically every business sector in Finland.  Finally I decided that I needed some new challenges and a different perspective and moved to the educational sector, where I freelanced until I lucked out and got my job at HAMK!

What is the best thing in teaching?

The relationships you form with the students.

What is the best thing at HAMK IB?

Two things! The students and my kick-ass colleagues!  For the first time in a long time I am actually part of a team, and professionally have found my home, so that feels really great!  And there is something about our students; it is hard to put into words, but every group is so diverse and so unique…I learn just as much from them as they do from me!

Free time activity?

I am married with two children who are eight and four, so they keep me busy!  I still try to travel as much as I can, I write African children’s books with my husband who is from Kenya (we have published five!) and I love to read.  One thing that many don’t know about me is that I love music, and I actually DJ every now and then with a group of girlfriends of mine… and we are really good!

Any tips to applicants?

Be brave, be unconventional and embrace what makes you different!  We pride ourselves on being “not your average” IB program… so come be unique with us!

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