Prior to moving to Finland, Susan worked in Denmark as volunteer with children, on a cultural exchange program. Having worked with children, she decided to further her studies /seek work opportunities as well. Out of the Scandinavian and Nordic countries that Susan applied to; Finland came through with the opportunity to achieve both.
Susan faced challenges in adapting to a new culture. However, she had some prior insight as to what life in Europe entails. However, still being away from home, close family members, relatives, and friends, whom she had been accustomed to having frequent social interactions with, as pillars of support was one of the main challenges Susan faced. “The initial years were obviously the hardest, but I was fortunate enough to meet some people; Finns and immigrants, who made me feel welcome, and also helped navigate my way through all the initial challenges.” Susan said.
Marie Sandberg has been a supporting member of Familia since 1997. Her first encounter with Familia started when she was looking for a place where she could get familiarized with the topic of intercultural relationships. She was seeking for more information and how she could get more involved.
Since then, Marie has witnessed the first Olohuoneet (Living Rooms), cultural events, the ebb and flows of trends, and the evolution of Familia itself.
Overwhelmed by nostalgia, Marie recounts Finland’s context back in the mid 1990’s (characterized by a low scale integration). Knowing that she held a vast treasure trove of memories to be shared, she explained how back then, Finns wanted to get exposure to international people and how Familia provided this need by creating the Olohuone (Living Room) concept. “The Olohuoneet were the perfect meeting places for fathers, mothers, grandparents, and small children. Everyone was welcome, foreigners and Finns alike. Olohuoneet were spaces where ideas and experiences were exchanged, and new friends were made.” Marie remarks.
Volunteering has been a part of my life since childhood. Back then though, most “volunteering” was done because it was a requirement, through school, church, club scouts, etc. However, the more I volunteered, the more I enjoyed it and saw the value it brought to myself and others. When I began my professional life after school, I became involved in many different organizations where I volunteered in teaching, advocacy, outreach, and various fundraising events. I was meeting lots of new friends and acquaintances at these events and often invited others to join; spreading the joy of volunteering as much as I could.
When I moved to Finland, I approached the move with optimism and like it was an adventure. As I embarked on this new chapter in my life, I had many ideas about how I would try to build a new existence. I honestly intended to simplify things as much as possible and focus on just a few interests (in particular, music and sharing about my experiences in Finland through social media). But as they say, life is what happens when you’re busy making plans, and the reality of my situation did not go as intended…
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.
Haluamme kertoa juhlavuotemme kunniaksi 35 tarinaa kahden kulttuurin perheistä
Julkaisemme 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.
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.