The Challenges Faced by Finn Returnees: A Journey of Identity and Integration
My name is Nora Dadi, a Finnish individual with mixed Finnish heritage, born to parents from Kuwait and Finland. My story emphasizes on the obstacles faced by Finn returnees, drawing from my personal experiences. I am currently the Volunteer Coordinator at Familia, an organization that supports multiculturalism and multilingualism.
During a 16-year period away from Finland, I lost touch with the Finnish language and my Finnish identity. Returning to Finland, I felt like an alien, denied the same opportunities given to immigrants. I had to spend a significant amount of money on Finnish classes, unlike other immigrants who had access to free language courses. My inability to speak Finnish resulted in discrimination and being viewed as an immigrant. Additionally, the cultural shock as an adult highlighted the differences between my childhood perception and the adult perspective of Finnish culture. Lacking knowledge of my rights and receiving no support, I fell into a deep depression.
"You are a Finn, and you have no rights to Finnish classes!" the worker bluntly declared, denying me the assistance I desperately needed. The refusal to provide language support left me feeling abandoned and frustrated. How could I fully integrate into Finnish society if I couldn't communicate effectively in the language? It was a discouraging setback in my pursuit of a better future.
Undeterred by the TE office's refusal, I made the decision to enroll in a Finnish high school even though I have already done my schooling in my youth, hoping that this endeavour would help improve my language proficiency. Despite investing time and effort into my studies, I soon realised that language skills alone were not enough to secure employment.
As I navigated the challenges of reintegrating into Finnish society, the obstacles I faced had a profound impact on my personal relationships. One particularly difficult aspect was the pressure to conform and change my surname. In discussions about my struggle to find employment, an acquaintance suggested, "Well, maybe you should consider changing your name back to Nyyssönen," which was my name before I got married.
This suggestion deeply insulted me, as it implied that altering my name to fit societal expectations would grant me acceptance from potentially discriminatory organisations. Firmly, I asserted that my name is Dadi and that I would never change it to appease any racist institution. The acquaintance dismissed my concerns, remarking, "Well, it's just a name!"
However, I understood that my name held significance beyond mere letters; it represented my identity and should not dictate my opportunities.
The refusal of institutions to support my integration and the insensitivity surrounding my surname caused further strain in my personal relationships. While I cherished the love and support of my Finnish family, I often felt a lack of understanding and effort to empathise with my experiences. Consequently, some relationships became distant, and my circle of Finnish friends primarily consisted of those who were themselves mixed-Finns or in intercultural relationships.
Enduring an identity crisis, I sought therapy to find resolution. Having lived in multiple countries, I embraced my mixed-Finn heritage and acknowledged the influence each place had on me. I emphasised that being a Mix-Finn is a source of pride. There are many Finns like me who have returned from various countries, and we deserve recognition as a Finnish minority and support to integrate
Producer: 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.
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.