Jaakko Haarala's Story
What does it mean to be from everywhere and nowhere at once?
I am writing from a small cabin in Karigasniemi. To get here, you turn North from Mannerheimintie and keep driving 15 hours, and then walk for another 30 minutes from the nearest road. Fortunately, a Lappish man (actually a Sami man), Nilla, has been kind enough to drive the snowmobile a few times back and forth, so it's easier to walk the harder snow from snowmobile tracks.
All my life I have had a passion of understanding people and trying to figure myself out. So much so that I forced myself into the School of Social Sciences at the University of Helsinki. Quite merit for somebody who was relatively talented at math but had close to zero skills in writing or other studies in humanities. My master’s program was that of Ethnic relations, Cultural Diversity and Integration, and I wrote my Thesis on Third Culture Kids. A little controversial topic for Thesis, as there was not much Academic research at that point.
Noora Hammar's Story
To Noora Hammar, Rovaniemi was the place where she gained her first real exposure to diversity. She grew up in Salo- a busy small city located in the Southwest Finland region.
Her interest in Public Law and Human Rights motivated her to apply for an internship at the European Parliament in Brussels. “This internship rendered me with the skills to develop an intercultural competence first hand” she said of her first working experience abroad. She completed her bachelor’s degree in public law from University of Lapland while interning in Brussels. When her internship ended, Noora continued as a Parliamentary Assistant for the Vice-Chair of the Development Committee in the European Parliament, where she focused on sexual rights, women and children’s rights, and migration. In 2015, she left her position in the European parliament to focus on her master’s thesis for University of Lapland, where she graduated in 2016.
Natalia Lebedeva's Story
Minä olen Natalia Lebedeva. Olen kotoisin Venäjältä, Petroskoista. Kotikaupungissani valmistuin suomen ja venäjän kielen opettajaksi Petroskoin valtion yliopistosta ja olin töissä monissa oppilaitoksissa peruskoulusta yliopistoon. Pidin ammatistani ja opettajan työstä, joka kiinnosti minua, motivoi jatkuvaan kehitykseen ja antoi mahdollisuuden edetä urallani. Elämäni kuitenkin muuttui merkittävästi sen jälkeen, kun päätin muuttaa Suomeen. Vaikka osasin suomea ja tulin tänne paluumuuttajana, sopeutuminen uusiin oloihin ei ollut helppoa. Jouduin aloittamaan kaiken aivan alusta ja löytämään paikkani uudesta maasta jo aikuisiässä.
Paola Hernandez's Story
My name is Paola, I was born in Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico in 1979, a birth that was somewhat chaotic for my beautiful mother since she had to be hospitalized three months before because I already wanted to be born to see the world, although my mother says that in the end, it was like a much-needed calm and quiet vacation. I currently live in Somero, a small city situated in Southwest Finland coastal area.
I never had in mind to make a home outside of Mexico, despite the problems that are happening today in my country. However, the chosen path has led me on an adventure where I live with migration and the experience of being an immigrant in a country very different from mine; an adventure that I took with my eyes closed and without prior research. I had no idea how challenging it could be, but in August 2019 my daughter and I moved to Finland.
Johanna Syren's Story
Oma kahden kulttuurin perheeni ei tämän määritelmän mukaan ole siis aivan tyypillisimmästä päästä, vaikka se toki itselleni se kaikkein tavallisin onkin. Minun kahden kulttuurin perheeni koostuu minusta, Suomessa syntyneestä ja kasvaneesta, kantasuomalaisesta äidistä; miehestäni, Suomeen Afrikan sarvesta Somaliasta nuorena aikuisena muuttaneesta perheemme isästä ja suomalais-somalialaisesta jälkikasvustamme. Tässä tarinassa keskityn kuvaamaan vanhemmuutta nimenomaan meidän kahden kulttuurin perheemme näkökulmasta.
Tuula Jakowleff's story
As we sit together in Tuula's cosy apartment in Lauttasaari, I feel very comfortable. Tuula prepared coffee and brought some delicious lemon pastries to the table. I feel welcomed, at home, safe. This is the primary thing that attracted many people to join Familia Club since the beginning - Tuula’s kind consideration for others.
At the age of 35 Tuula became a young widow and a single mother to her four children. As she felt the need to share her daily life with other adults, she found herself inviting some friends over. “My home became sort of a “Sewing Circle”, Tuula said. While they mended children’s clothes and knitted wool socks and shared experiences and listened to how things were in the rest of the world, the early beginnings of Familia Club were forming. “I opened the doors to my friends, who in turn brought their own friends” Tuula added cheerfully. There were also foreigners among the invited. “We soon realised this was a great way to bring together foreigners and Finns” Tuula said.
Back in the 1980s, integration and cross-cultural interaction were promoted in a remarkably different reality than today. There were about 20,000 foreigners in Finland who had come to Finland for marriage, study, work, and later also as refugees. In Finland, the state or municipalities had not yet organized the readiness to receive people from different cultures, whose contacts with Finns were almost non-existent. At that time, the unique richness that that group of people brought to Finland or their need to participate in Finnish everyday life was rarely understood. Overall, society did not understand the importance of integration. The desire to do something about the situation and enable natural coexistence between Finns and those who moved to Finland was initially born in the circle of private people.
Haluamme kertoa juhlavuotemme kunniaksi 35 tarinaa kahden kulttuurin perheistä
ulkaisemme 35 viikon ajan 35 erilaista tarinaa, jotka kuvastavat monia haasteita ja mahdollisuuksia, joita kahden kulttuurin perheet jokapäiväisessä elämässään kohtaavat. Haluamme näiden tarinoiden heijastavan todellisuutta ja tarjoavan vertaistukea, voimaannuttavia kokemuksia ja inspiraation lähteitä sekä lisäävän tietoisuutta kulttuurienvälisyydestä ja monikielisyydestä Suomessa.
35 Years: Your Story Matters! is a celebration of stories, interculturalism, and connection.
For 35 weeks, we will be publishing 35 different stories that reflect the many challenges and opportunities intercultural families face in their everyday lives. We want these stories to reflect reality and serve as an accessible peer support, source of empowerment and inspiration, and increase awareness of Interculturalism and Multilingualism in Finland.