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.
It was Tuula Jakowleff's idea to open the doors of her home and invite international friends to her "Sewing Circle". Attendees exchanged news, shared different experiences, and listened to how things were in other parts of the world. Children’s clothes were patched, and wool socks were woven. At Tuula’s house children were always involved and were the first to try delicacies from different countries brought to the table.
“From the very beginning, the principles of Familia Club have included open doors, a welcoming smile, working together and listening with compassion. The feeling that there is a place where you are welcome regardless of nationality, language, religion or belonging to a political group is very important. Familia has understood this issue since its foundation.”
Although teaching of Finnish language has been a central part of Familia’s activities since its inception, at the very beginning, other activities were also organized. This way everyone had the opportunity to bring a “piece” of their own culture and learn about Finland at the same time. Meaningfulness and joy of doing new things were encouraged. The purpose was to give foreigners a sense of belonging to a group, to a new country and ultimately to Finnish society.
In autumn 2022, Familia had more than 1600 members and we organize a diverse number of activities including: language Clubs, Finnish language courses, peer support groups, counselling consultations, webinars, events, and many more!
Editor and production: Yvette Ahonen
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.