St Joseph's School, Stanthorpe | Living Mercy since 1875



In 1984, Petri Laitinen was a Rotary exchange student who completed Year 12 at Stanthorpe State High School. Petri enjoyed his year staying with families such as David and Judy Lee and Helen and Neville Jones. Petri has many fond memories of his time spent here and can boast visiting iconic places such as Ayers Rock, The Great Barrier Reef and seeing so much of our country.

During his time in Australia, Petri was swapping letters with his school friend, Mirja who years later became his wife. Mirja and Petri have 3 grown daughters who are all currently studying at University. Petri enjoyed a return visit in 1991 for David and Judy’s daughter’s wedding.

Recently both Petri and Mirja embarked on a 3 week whirlwind visit staying with David and Judy Lee. Whilst here, Mirja who is a Primary School teacher was interested in witnessing how schooling was done at St Joseph’s School. Both Mirja and Petri spent a few hours with Ms Amanda Thompson and her Year 3/4 students.

The students were very excited to have Petri and Mirja in their classroom and have made arrangements to do a SKYPE session down the track with Mirja’s class in Finland. “Students are the same in different countries. They don’t pretend, they are what they are,” Mirja said. “I really liked how St Joseph’s students listen to their teacher and then they are asked to go discuss in pairs. This didn’t happen at our schools back home, but more of that is now being introduced. The Year 3/4 s were very interested in our life in Finland and asked many questions. We really enjoyed the time spent with the class.” Mirja added.