Kirkkonummi - asuinpaikasta kotipaikaksi

Etusivu Kirkkonummi Palvelut Immigrants' Kirkkonummi

Immigrants' Kirkkonummi

Sähköposti Tulosta

Kirkkonummi - Verkkonummi.fi

Engineers, housewives, teachers, cooks, cleaners, professors, unemployed people, traveling agents, entrepreneurs, mechanics, students, civil servants. People with families and people who live alone. Musical people, sporty people, bookworms, couch potatoes, geeks...

The lives of the immigrants who live among us resemble the lives of those of us who were born in Finland in many ways. And in just as many ways, it is completely different; their problems bear a resemblance to the problems that emigrants leaving Finland to work elsewhere have to face. The various degrees of feeling like an outsider interfere with both the immigrants themselves as well as the society they live in.

In the best case scenario for the society, this only means a loss of human resources and expertise. However, in the worst case it means segregation, social exclusion, and all the problems the aforementioned two cause. For an immigrant, on the other hand, being an outsider means loneliness, rootlessness, an acute lack of social relationships, few or no hobbies at all, and often deep depression. An outsider grows no roots, and often only wants to leave.

It would be a benefit for the municipality, associations, enterprises, and all inhabitants that the immigrants could feel at home here in Kirkkonummi and that they feel belonging in the local community. This, however, requires that the community extends its arm out to help the immigrants when help is needed. And for this to be possible, we first have to ask the immigrants themselves about what they need.

59 languages

In an effort to find out more about the current situation, the central organization of Kirkkonummi's youth associations, Kyrkslättnejdens ungdomsförbund r.f., or KNUF in short, is launching a project called '59 languages'.

In late April, KNUF organized a joint workshop for immigrants and native inhabitants of Kirkkonummi, where everyone contemplated together on important topics such as what needs do the inhabitants with immigrant backgrounds have and how both the immigrants and the municipal community would benefit from cooperation. The goal was to gather concrete ideas for the creation of an operating plan that could be followed in order to assuage some of the real problems the immigrants are facing.

A high attendance of immigrants and representatives from different associations and organizations made the project leaders glad. The discussions had by several groups gave KNUF a several projects' worth of ideas.

In an amusing coincidence, the name of the project became outdated even before the project got underway: when the idea for the project was formulated, Kirkkonummi was a home for speakers of 59 different languages, but currently the number of languages is already closer to 70. Nearly 4% of the municipality's populace speak a language other than Finnish or Swedish. The figure is smaller than in the capital region, but considerably higher than elsewhere in the country.

On the difficulty of finding work

Work and livelihood are naturally unfathomably important to those immigrants who have not been brought here by any particular job. It is also beneficial to the country and the municipality that immigrants find employment quickly. Finland, however, is not a particularly easy country to settle in – our tricky language causes problems even when there normally would not be any.

Another very problematic aspect of the country is that we tend to trust academic diplomas more than we trust individuals and their working experience. Even certified papers are not always enough as many employers disregard foreign degrees, and many highly educated immigrants end up having to work as mailmen or hospital auxiliaries – if they find any work at all.

In the recent years, the situation has only gotten worse as the state has saved money and cut down on its services. Employment offices have lost a considerable amount of staff and many of their services have been transferred online where the only available languages are Finnish and Swedish. It is understandable that all employers cannot draft job announcements in English, but the search engine could at least support more languages.

It would be even better if the employers' forms would have a space for informing the applicants whether or not the job could also be carried out in other languages than just Finnish or Swedish. Many workplaces use English as their official language, and most jobs do not require a perfect knowledge of Finnish.

Finding work is not only set back by the insufficient service capability of the employment offices – often a bigger obstacle is the prejudice of many employers. Kirkkonummi's municipal Adult Education Centre provides courses of the Finnish language that all include a short on-the-job training period. Nina Serow, a teacher and an immigrant herself, has helped many immigrants find trainee positions last semester.

Despite the fact that the linguistic skills of many of the courses' students are usually not very high, the training has regularly worked out well; there has only been a single case in which the difficulties in communication were overwhelming and the training period had to be canceled. According to Serow, the hardest part is to break through the prejudice. She says the myth of immigrants being lazy workers is still prevalent, even though it is completely false. Those who have faced the difficulty of finding a job are often very motivated to work.

Hobbies are doorways into the Finnish community

Very often nowadays, an immigrant goes to work, if he or she has a job, and then sits tight at home for the rest of the day. Many long for company and for something to do, but either does not get information about recreational opportunities or is too timid to join in. Organized hobby groups for immigrants and, above all else, chances to socialize with the locals are sorely needed.

Fortunately, such opportunities do exist: there are over 300 associations in Kirkkonummi, most of which are always looking for new, active members. The problem is that, generally, it is very hard to find information about the associations, especially if you do not know their languages well enough. Many immigrants are also afraid that speakers of foreign languages are not necessarily welcome participants.

More information about all the recreational activities is therefore needed in 59 languages, or at the very least in English. It is a shame if the doors leading to people and pleasant activities stay closed simply due to the lack of knowledge. Kirkkonummi also needs events and groups that would introduce the local inhabitants to the culture of our immigrants, as Verkkonummi believes it is about time for the people of Kirkkonummi to become integrated in the global world.

Music, food, foreign languages, and the traditional customs and landscapes of the home countries of our immigrants are things that would interest many people. For example's sake, how would regularly meeting ethnic cooking circles or experts' traveling advice nights sound like? Or how about singing foreign songs, learning new traditional games, or a nature excursion for learning the names of the most familiar plants in several languages? Or a tourist trip around Kirkonummi with our immigrants leading the way, as it is often the case that people from elsewhere notice many things easier than the accustomed eye does. The possibilities are infinite.

Communication and meeting places

t is very difficult to find out about employment, services, and recreational opportunities if the information is only available in Finnish. The goal, after all, is that immigrants and their families would integrate into the Finnish society. But how does that happen if an immigrant mother responsible for bringing up her children cannot read the newspaper announcement about football clubs, the music academy's entrance exams, or about free admission into the swimming hall? How does an immigrant end up Nordic walking, in a pottery class, or in a concert if there is no information about any of them?

A lot of effort has to be put into improving communications. The media, the municipality, the associations, and the enterprises have to wake up to the reality that there are people among us who do not understand Finnish but whom we still want to reach.
Information also spreads from mouth to mouth. We desperately need new meeting places for meeting other people and for exchanging greetings and vital information. In the best possible case, such meeting places could also be places for finding people who could help immigrants ease their way into the Finnish society.

Meeting places are also useful as they create and enable a whole array of activities. Those residents' and towns' associations that have their own spaces can arrange the most organized activity, as, in addition to meeting places, that usually requires storage space for all the common equipment needed.

What's next?

The results of the workshop were plentiful. KNUF got what it needed to be able to properly plan for the project and to file for state and EU subsidies. The earliest that any money can be expected is in 2015, but nothing stops the locals from starting up all kinds of activities even before that. Plans are already in place for much summer activity this summer, and KNUF is welcoming all immigrants, Kirkkonummi natives, and those who have fled west from Espoo to participate.

On two summer Mondays, June 9th and 23rd, KNUF is organizing a multicultural Nordic walk that starts at Luckan, in Aseman Ostari, at 5pm. You can borrow poles from Luckan, and even all walkers without poles are welcome on the stroll in good company.

July 2nd will see an international picnic on the lush grass of the Gesterby museum area, starting at 2pm. Guests are advised to bring with them picnic lunch and something to sit on. On July 16th, a similar picnic excursion will head to the Meiko lake area. Swimming gear can be useful.

An international nature evening for the whole family will be held at the Ragvalds cottage (Överbyntie 140) on Tuesday, August 19th, from 6pm to 8pm. During the evening, the visitors and the children will get to know the garden herbs, the yard's trees and other plants, and get to make their own herbal tea. The evening tea will also provide an opportunity to discuss how plants are used in different cultures, and what the best ways of getting to know the nature in Kirkkonummi are.

The Adult Education Centre's language courses for immigrants will be held every Thursday at Luckan next semester. Starting September 4th, Luckan will also organize free guidance counseling for immigrants every other week from 12pm to 5pm.

The multicultural celebration of the '59 languages' project will take place at the Ljungheda youth club house (Vanha Heikkiläntie 64), on October 4th. KNUF needs a multicultural organizing committee for the celebration, and is recruiting all willing individuals to help out with planning. For further information, contact the people at Luckan by emailing them at Sähköpostiosoite on suojattu roskapostiohjelmia vastaan, Javascript-tuen tulee olla päällä nähdäksesi osoitteen

The project itself will continue this autumn with the creation of the operational plan and with drafting the subsidy application on the basis of the ideas and wishes expressed at the workshop. If you want to participate or to keep in touch with the people in charge, the best way to do that is to contact Luckan.

For the time being, Luckan will keep announcing its multicultural activities in the local newspapers, as well as via the mailing list that was collected in the workshop event. If you wish to be added onto the list, contact the group by sending Luckan your email address and expressing the wish to be included in the future developments.

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