Moi Kaikille! I am Azra from Malaysia, and this is my story. I was born in Malaysia in an intercultural family. My father was born in Malaysia to a family originating from India and my mother was a Malay with mixed parentage of Indian and Indonesian. I grew up with intercultural dynamics within my family among the three major race groups in Malaysia (Malay, Chinese and Indian). I was well aware of the mixed culture we adopted as part of our family lifestyle. We would dress in Malay traditional clothes and watch and listen to Indian movies and songs, while enjoying sumptuous Chinese food for dinner.
My understanding and realization of culture, identity and relationships were enhanced further in my adulthood. Prior to Finland, I had lived in Australia, Vietnam and Ukraine for work reasons and have met many intercultural families among friends and colleagues. I loved making friends with people from all over the world within my work circle, learning usually something new about their culture, heritage and traditions.
I visited Finland for the first time in 2014 during the summer and then again in 2018. I was captivated by the beautiful nature and the flexibility of the lifestyle in Finland. I travelled to Rovaniemi and even met with Joulupukki in his hometown. I remember I told Joulupukki what I wished for Christmas, “something special from Finland”. Little did I know, I would meet a really special man from Finland after that.
I would say that it was quite a complicated path since I was quite on a rolling coaster on-and-off studying Finnish. I was quite passionate about this language at first, then I was occupied with other activities in my life and Finnish language was no longer a priority. Long story short, I started learning Finnish again in the summer of 2021. It was the first summer in Finland that I did not go to work and stayed at home all day cramming Finnish instead.
My 10-hour daily routine for learning Finnish include 2 hours of speaking only in Finnish preparing for YKI test, 4 hours of reading one selkokirja, 2 hours of watching series and films in Finnish and the rest is for doing grammar exercises in various kinds of grammar book. I do believe I completed learning Suomen mestari 1-2-3-4, Samalla kartalla 1-2, Harjoitus tekee mestari 1-2-3-4, Hyvin menee 1-2, Ykinköö ja Ykäänkö and several language books available in the library. I did enjoy and sometimes hate the process, and, occasionally, I simply wanted to give up. However, I believe that the crucial element to my success passing YKI 4 level is not the learning process but hope that drags me all the way.
Vuoden 2016 Brexit oli prosessi, joka sai alkunsa Yhdistyneen kuningaskunnan neuvoa-antavasta EU-kansanäänestyksestä vuonna 2016, jonka äänestystulos osoitti Euroopan unionista eroamisen kannatusta. Syitä tähän kannatukseen olivat muiden muassa Britannian itsemääräämisoikeus, Euroopan unionin peruspilareihin kuuluva työvoiman vapaa liikkuvuus sekä Eurooppaan suuntautunut pakolaiskriisi vuonna 2015. Brexitin lopullinen hinta tulee olemaan kallis ja suomalaisille ja muidenkin EU-maiden opiskelijoille Brexitin seuraamus tuli selväksi viime jouluna, kun UK päätti ettei se enää osallistu opiskelijoiden Erasmus-vaihto-ohjelmaan. Suomessa tämä tarkoittaa sitä, että sadoilta suomalaisopiskelijoilta vuosittain loppuu mahdollisuus opiskella Britanniassa Erasmus-ohjelmassa.
Viimeinen vuotemme ulkomailla oli koronan sävyttämä, kun koko Eurooppa vaipui pandemian vuoksi poikkeustilaan ja näitä aaltoja me kaikki elämme edelleen. Suomi on kuitenkin monessa suhteessa päässyt koronakriisissä Keski-Eurooppalaisia maita vähemmällä, loppukevättä lukuun ottamatta on voitu mökkeillä ja matkustella kotimaassa, kahvitella tuttujen kanssa, shoppailla kauppakeskuksissa ja käydä kampaajalla. Suomessa maaliskuussa alkanut keskustelu ulkonaliikkumiskiellosta käytännön toteutuksineen käytiin Belgiassa pitkälti jo yli vuosi sitten. Belgiassa liikkumisrajoitukset ovatkin olleet jo vuodenpäivät arkipäivää. Tuttuja ei ole saanut tavata, eikä lähipiirin ulkopuolelle matkustaa. Maskipakko on ollut itsestäänselvyys.
Edellä mainittujen poliittisten myllerrysten ja maailmanlaajuisen pandemian lisäksi olen viimeisen viiden vuoden aikana oppinut ulkomailla elämisestä paljon. Olen nähnyt erilaisia paikkoja ja olen pyrkinyt myös ymmärtämään toisenlaista tapaa elää. Belgialaiset elävät hetkessä, ”asioilla on tapana tavalla tai toisella järjestyä” todetaan usein, kun jokin asia kerta toisensa jälkeen menee pieleen. Liittovaltio Belgiassa osataan myös ratkoa poliittisia kriisejä ja pattitilanteita ja maa onkin viimeiset neljätoista vuotta elänyt länsimäiselle demokratialle vierasta epävakaiden hallitusten aikaa. Politiikasta ei sen enempää, mutta mainitsen kuitenkin, että äänestäminen maassa on muuten pakollista ja siksi äänestysprosentti harjoitetusta politiikasta huolimatta on aina poikkeuksetta hyvin korkeaa, yli 90 prosenttia.
Työntekijöiden vapaa liikkuvuus on ollut EU:n perustamisesta lähtien yksi sen perusperiaatteista, se on työntekijöiden perusoikeus, joka täydentää tavaroiden, pääoman ja palvelujen vapaata liikkuvuutta unionin sisämarkkinoilla. Kiistatta voidaan myös todeta työntekijöiden vapaan liikkuvuuden olevan yksi EU:n menestystarinoista, siitäkin huolimatta, että sen voidaan katsoa olevan yksi syy Britannian eroon EU:sta. Ylevistä tavoitteista huolimatta työntekijöiden liikkuvuus unionin alueella kohtaa kuitenkin edelleen haasteita alkaen hallinnollisista muodollisuuksista ja päättyen esimerkiksi sosiaaliturvan yhteensovittamisen ja tutkintojen tunnustamisen haasteisiin. Usein kysymyksiä on enemmän kuin selviä vastauksia ja ulkomaille lähtevältä tulee avoimen mielen lisäksi löytyä pitkää pinnaa ja halua haastavienkin tilanteiden selvittelyyn.
Mitä viivan alle viimeisistä viidestä vuodesta sitten jää, on kysymys, jota on paljon tullut viime aikoina pohdittua. Ulkomailla asumisen lisäksi koemme, että olemme perheenä hitsautuneet yhä tiiviimmin yhteen, onhan takana vaiherikas ja haastavakin aika ulkomailla. Osaamme myös arvostaa arjen sujuvuutta ja ennen kaikkea suomalaista koulutusjärjestelmää, jonka huomaan voi lapsen lähettää ilman suuria panostuksia koulukirjoihin, muihin koulutarvikkeisiin tai eväisiin. Kouluruokailu on ihan parasta! Mieleen tulee myös koulumatka, jonka suurin osa koululaisista voi Suomessa taittaa ihan itse, näin ei todellakaan ulkomailla asuessa ole. Ammatillisesti olen saanut rutkasti lisää itseluottamusta, ulkomailla työskennellessä kun ei kynttilää juuri kannata vakan alla pitää, ja ammattitaito on karttunut. Arvostan myös ihmisiä, jotka uskaltavat lähteä omasta kotimaastaan työskennelläkseen ja elääkseen toisessa maassa. Heillä on sellaista osaamista, mitä ei voi mitata koulun penkillä istumalla tai todistuksen arvosanoilla, heillä on rohkeutta ottaa askel tuntemattomaan ja uskoa siihen, että elämä kantaa. Koska niin se vain on, että elämä kantaa sillä asioilla on tapana aina tavalla tai toisella järjestyä kuten belgialainen sanoisi.
We decided to move back home after our son was born. I couldn't wait to be back in Helsinki closer to my mother and relatives. I knew we were doing the right move especially due to the fact that my kids would be in much better schools.
Little did I think of my husband, my Bahraini husband, who has only ever just visited Finland for the holidays that were filled with fun, excitement and free of worry. Those visits that every relative and friend of mine tries to meet us before we would leave again. Finland was an exciting, fun and very friendly place he always thought.
My husband was raised in a huge family. He, his six brothers and all 40+ cousins were constantly together. His parents were always available for support and advice, and so were his elder brothers, aunts, uncles and even his cousins. No one was left behind without all the support, to help them up again on their feet.
"During the most difficult days, I remind myself of what my mother taught me; don't give up, always believe after every fall there is a rise. When you reach the bottom, there is only one way left to go, up." - Ali Dadi
I moved to Finland sometime before my husband as to get an apartment and so our elder daughter would start school. When my husband moved, he was so happy to know he could spend six months with our baby boy before he would turn three and join the education system. My husband expressed his amazement, for a country to give such an opportunity, being able to reconnect and close the distance that grew between him and his son whom he had missed while he was away.
Soon our son was at day care, my husband was placed with an unsuitable group by the Employment Office (TE-toimisto) and he started drifting away in front of my eyes. He was absent minded, tried to join conversations but was too sensitive to talk about anything, and turned from a healthy race driver into a very poor shape. He was a walking dead man who looked like my husband. I was never so worried as I was then.
Before summer he managed to find a suitable integration study program and convinced the Employment Office to let him take a part in it. Suddenly he was with similarly educated people from all around the world. He started to get out of that scary place. He was also called for few races in Morocco, France, Italy, Dubai and Oman, so he got to see his racing buddies.
By mid-summer my old husband was back and we were able to talk at last. He tried explaining the feelings he had. He started crying and explaining that he is so disappointed in himself for being so weak. That was the moment that it hit me, how many men are raised up to think that feeling is weak. My beloved husband needed to know he was the most amazing man but he is a human being too.
He never realized that he had the right to look at his own feelings, his own happiness and well being. And that does not make him any less manly nor weak. We discussed and he agreed that he might need help before next winter. As a Finn who has lived most of my life outside of Finland I did not know other than the healthcare centre to seek help for him.
"The most difficult thing for me was, that I did not know how long will this take, but I did know it has to end sooner or later." - Ali Dadi
My husband was raised in a psychologically smart family, so he never needed a professional psychologist's help. When his friend died in a burning race car in front of his eyes, he found all the support he needed to bounce back from that trauma. When my husband was stuck under a car and burned 2/3 of his back, his family's support helped him through that too. He always had help naturally, spoke of his pain and was supported with no fancy disorders names that physiologists give. He did not even know what depression really was. Until that winter in Finland.
He entered the doctor's room. He said: “I suffered from depression last winter, and now as winter is approaching, I want to prevent falling back to the same depression again. All I need is a counsellor to talk to because I feel lonely, and I feel that I have no one on my side.“
To which the doctor replied: “You can't know what you need, if you had depression and are talking about it, it means it was a very mild one and so I can describe you something you take if you feel depressed next time.”
My husband refused the medication and came home to tell me what happened. He felt attacked when his psychological intelligence was disrespected. We diced to try to find other ways to find him help. We got to the GYM together, I listened to him whenever he needed to talk, and we tried to survive that winter together. He did face difficulties, but it was much better than the winter before. Before the end of the winter we attended Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training course. That course proved to him how psychologically educated, smart and aware he was naturally.
He was one of the strongest people in understanding that course. Everyone saw it and praised his intelligence.
"All I need is a counsellor to talk to because I feel lonely, and I feel that I have no one on my side.“ - Ali Dadi
Now as a wife, I have to stand and shout as loud as I can "Men's mental wellbeing matters too". I see communities so busy caring about the children's mental wellbeing and the mothers' mental wellbeing and divorced women's mental wellbeing but rarely have I heard of men's, they do exist but rarely heard of and when needed we didn't know how to find them. Don't get me wrong, I think everyone's mental wellbeing is important, but we should not forget the men. Men have been taught to be strong, not cry, work hard, not complain and many have been taught to not get weak and ask for psychological assistance. We have to change this stereotyping. We have to embrace men as human beings, not as robots programed to keep it together and fix every broken thing at home. Because sometimes it's him who needs helping to fix something broken, and there is no shame to allow him to ask for that help.
"I was never ready to give up my love to this amazing man, so I knew we had to find away through this!"
From the experience I learned to listen to him instead of only talking and asking him to listen to me. I learned how to be patient and give him time to figure out the feeling he is going though. And learned how to read his need of a hug or a touch when he needed that too. He moved to Finland for me and for our children so this is the least I could give him in return, be there for him.
My husband is all good, and almost got used to the Finnish style of life, and he made few friends, which helped him a lot. But I wish we knew about the peer support groups that are offered. I found out about father's group that gather in Familia ry for years, just few weeks ago. That would have been just what he needed in those lonely dark days.
"We have taken this decision to walk through life together, so we have to always remember to wait for the other one and hold hands on the rough surfaces."
Men's mental wellbeing matters too.
Tänä syksynä Familiaan saapui uusia kasvoja! Tutustu Camillaan, Familian uuteen vapaaehtoistoiminnan koordinaattoriin.
Olen Camilla Bergman, Familian uusi vapaaehtoistoiminnan koordinaattori. Koulutukseltani olen melkein valmis ranskan kielen FM ja aloitan yhteisöpedagogin opinnot HUMAKissa tänä syksynä työn oheessa. Lisäksi minulle on kertynyt neljän vuoden kokemus nuorten vapaaehtoisten johtamisesta, globaalikasvatuksesta ja kansainvälisen vapaaehtoistyön kehittämisestä esimerkiksi AIESECissa, Taksvärkissä ja EYPssä. Suomen lisäksi olen asunut ulkomailla Ranskassa, Perussa ja Romaniassa. Vapaa-ajallani tykkään ulkoilla, kuunnella podcasteja ja leipoa.
Innostuin alun perin järjestötyöhön, kun olin 2 kuukautta vapaaehtoisena Perussa. Järjestötyön monipuolisuus antaa puitteet kehittyä monella eri tavalla eikä järjestöissä ole koskaan tylsää päivää. Familiassa minua kiinnosti erityisesti järjestön merkityksellinen missio ja mahdollisuus saada aikaan kestävä muutos pieneen järjestöön.
Mitä tuut tekemään?
Tulen toimimaan Familian yhteyshenkilönä kaikkeen vapaaehtoistyöhön liittyen joulukuun 2020 loppuun asti. Lisäksi tulen rakentamaan Familialle uusia toimintamalleja ja kehittämään vanhoja. Minuun voi siis olla yhteydessä vapaaehtoistyön aloittamiseen, toiminnan järjestämiseen tai toiminnan kehittämiseen liittyvissä kysymyksissä. Uskon, että järjestämällä ja kehittämällä Familian vapaaehtoistoimintaa voimme vaikuttaa positiivisesti monen ihmisen elämään!
Ota yhteyttä! :) Camillaan voi olla yhteydessä sähköpostilla osoitteessa email@example.com tai puhelimitse 050 502 1039.
Who am I?
My name is Camilla Bergman and I am the new Volunteer Coordinator at Familia. My educational background is in French language and I am about to start a new degree as a Community Educator at HUMAK UAS. I have 4 years of experience leading youth volunteers and working with global education as well as developing international volunteering activities in organizations like AIESEC, Taksvärkki and EYP.In addition to Finland I have lived in France, Peru and Romania. In my spare time I enjoy walking in nature, listening to podcasts and baking.
I became interested in working in NGOs after I spent 2 months volunteering in Peru. I love the variety of NGOs that allows you to develop yourself. There is never a boring day working in an NGO! I was drawn to Familia because of its important mission and the possibility to make a lasting change on a small organization.
What will I be doing?
I will be working as the contact person for Familia’s volunteers until end of December 2020. In addition to this I will be developing old and new frameworks for volunteering with Familia. You can contact me about any questions regarding starting volunteering, organizing or developing activities. I believe that by organizing and developing Familia’s activities we can make a positive impact on many people’s lives!
Get in touch! :)
You can contact Camilla by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 050 502 1039.
After spending about a year or two in Finland with my suomalainen mies, and because my momma was particular about politeness, I quickly learned the words for thank you and sorry – kiitos and anteeksi. I also picked up some other sounds and grunts from the Finns around me—Yoh-oh and non-iin—and learned to use each with different intonation and meaning. But, I mixed up my double consonants and confused my mother-in-law when I tried to practice my Finnish with her. I would tell her I was making this delicious keittiö and she would wonder how our kitchen had suddenly become tasty. Only now after 4 years, have I finally got it right, keitto for soup, and keittiö for kitchen. And, my sweet mom-in-law? Well, she has learned to decipher my own special version of Finnish.
When I left Finland’s shores, I didn’t realize that words and mannerisms of a place kinda become entrenched in the very fibre of our being.
We were rushing to get our connecting flight in Istanbul, just fresh off a Finnish flight. And, there was I, very politely trying to make my way between the crowds at the airport. After the quiet and peaceful Helsinki airport, it was a “shock” to find myself in a crowded airport. It was only when I was finally seated and ‘seat-belted’ in the plane that I realized: I had not been saying “Excuse me,” but “Anteeksi.” No wonder then, that I had to jostle my way between the weaving queues. All the while this polite me was spouting Finnish in auto-mode, but no one was able to understand what I was saying!
Fast forward to the land of Genghis Khan. Mongolia and Mongolian. Where one learns that it is Chinghis Haan, not Genghis, with a J, but Chingg-his, and definitely not Khan with a “k”, for the great one was a Haan, a King. Mongolia, a beautiful land and lovely people. Far removed from the history of terror and rampage. And in their midst, a kantasuomalainen man, and me, an Indian.
Habits, they die hard. New ones get picked up easily, and if one is constantly hearing certain expressions used by those around, one can also, quite unconsciously begin to use those very same words.
Being the “agreeable” person that I am, I’ve always felt the need to verbally agree with things people say. And what better way to do it than to use Yoh-oh—the Finnish equivalent of yes, of course, yeah, and suchlike—spelled in Finnish as Joo. What a strong word. Much better than the “Yes, yes,” that I used to use as an Indian. Only, in Mongolia, the Joo, bothered our friends. And really bothered them. During a short tea break at our Mongolian language school, I was busy discussing something with my mies, and loudly said, “Joo!” I was agreeing with him and using my classic Indian head-shake for emphasis. When I said “Jooh -oh,” for the second time, our Mongolian language teachers popped into the classroom, concern writ deep on their faces, “Is everything Ok? Are you well? You’re not sick, are you?” Baffled, and with an extra vigorous Indian shake-of-the-head that emphasized my answer, I said, “No!” The Mongolian teachers sighed their relief. Apparently, Joo is a sound that Mongolians use when they are in grave pain, it is the “sound” of pain. Almost like an “ouch” but only for more grievous wounds and injuries.
And so, it was that I had to quickly learn other expressions, I didn't want our Mongolians to think that I was constantly in pain. I remember telling myself that my choice of word or expression also had to complement the great Indian headshake. And so, I found many other Mongolian expressions and put them quickly to use.
After less than a year in Mongolia, I’d picked up lots of Mongolian-isms. Once, we had a visitor from Finland who was busy narrating a rather dramatic story. And when she was describing the events that befell another Finn, I blurted out, “Tiimo!” To which our Finnish friend, said, “No! Not Timo!” She was annoyed that I hadn't kept up with her narration and also wanted to correct my pronunciation, especially because by then, the legendary me was known for mixing up her double vowels and for using incorrect pronunciation. It took a bit of explaining to tell her that I was not talking about our mutual Finnish friend Timo, but that I’d used a regular Mongolian expression to show my surprise.
But, it’s not just me who gets into such predicaments. The peculiar way of rolling one’s head to show that you agree with someone or something is that is quite unique to Indians. But, my husband remarked that perhaps I had learned this habit from pigeons who visited the ledge under the balcony of our apartment in India. From their angle of observation, the pigeons had to tilt their head to look at us. Kinda like in half-agreement till they turned their head to another angle and gazed at us with their other beady eye. It soon became my husband’s favorite way of spending time when we were at our apartment. He would gaze at the pigeons with their bobbing heads and they would stare him down, shift focus, nod and tilt head and begin again. They knew they were safe as we were too far up above them. The Husband was thrilled about having discovered that “not just Indians, but even the pigeons in India tilt and shake their heads.” Hmm, I bade my time. After our return to Finland from India, someone remarked and told my husband that he had picked up a queer mannerism - apparently, he wobbled his head his head whilst saying “Joo.” I smiled my quiet smile and said to The Hubby, “Yeah! It must've been those pigeons.”
blogi - blog
Ajatuksia ja kokemuksia elämästä kahden kulttuurin keskellä.
Reflections and experiences from the life of intercultural families.
Toivotamme sinut lämpimästi tervetulleeksi osallistumaan blogiyhteisöömme: lue, kommentoi ja kirjoita!
Kirjoittajina voivat toimia kaikki kahden kulttuurin arkea elävät ja aiheesta kiinnostuneet. Kynnystä kirjoittamiselle ei tule nostaa liian korkealle ja kirjoittaa voi joko omalla nimellä tai nimimerkillä.
Blogissa esitetyt näkökannat ja mielipiteet ovat kirjoittajien omia, eivätkä edusta Familian kantaa.
Kahden kulttuurin arki on itsessään kiinnostavaa ja siitä kirjoittaminen voi avata myös itselle uusia näkökulmia!
Blogikirjoituksia voi tarjota sähköpostitse (info@ familiary.fi) tai yhteydenottolomakkeen kautta. Lopullisen valinnan julkaistavista jutuista tekee Familian henkilökunta.
We warmly welcome you to participate in our blog community: read, comment, and write!
Anyone who lives and works in the world of intercultural families and is interested in the topic is welcome to contribute. The threshold for writing should not be too high, and you can write either under your own name or under a pseudonym.
Keep in mind that the views and opinions expressed in the blog are those of the authors and do not represent the position of Familia.
The everyday life of intercultural families is interesting and writing about it can also open new perspectives for you! Your story matters and helps to raise awareness about the opportunities and challenges within intercultural families.
Blog contributions can be submitted by e-mail (info@ familiary.fi) or via our contact form. Final selection and edition of the stories to be published will be conducted by our staff.
Welcome to join us!