Text: Ahmed Hassan and Konsta Savolainen
Translated from Finnish into English by Outi Korhonen
In the activities of NordicSom we focus on constructing issue-based Nordic collaboration in such a manner that ethnic background does not define the activities. Understanding the significance of multilingualism is one possible channel to influence. In this context our partner Svenska nu motivates and inspires Finnish youth to use Swedish language and to promote multilingualism and the visibility of bilingualism. The people behind Svenska nu want to contribute to the awareness about the ability to speak languages as a significant societal question. We want to include people with migrant background in this work.
Our work in promoting bilingualism or multilingualism from the point of view of immigrants has brought up many positive and inspiring experiences among the youth, when they hear about learning Swedish from a different angle.
Ahmed Hassan from NordicSom visits schools giving lectures about his own school years in a Swedish-speaking school and describes his efforts and successes in learning the language. He tells about amusing coincidences of his life and emphasizes that you must rely on yourself and use the opportunities that the Finnish society offers. We are all Finnish and Nordic, and it can be very important for a person with migrant background to be able to speak Swedish.
Multilingualism is part of today’s work life, as we live in a world influenced by globalization. Multilingualism is needed also in encountering people from different cultural backgrounds with their challenges and possibilities. It can open possibilities that otherwise remain unreachable. Discovering this is rewarding. Different visions offered by different languages support each other especially in team work.
Our work in promoting bilingualism or multilingualism from the point of view of immigrants has brought up many positive and inspiring experiences among the youth, when they hear about learning Swedish from a different angle. The successes in learning a language are important and they compensate the challenging side of learning. When a person with immigrant background that does not fit in the stereotypical image of a Swedish-speaker in Finland, succeeds in learning the language, it gives reasons for others, too, to rely on their ability to learn and develop their capacities. Our perception is that a positive change has occurred in the confidence among the youth in using Swedish and in their attitude towards learning it.
The official bilingualism of Finland is a richness. Apart from this, immigrants have good opportunities to develop their mother language at school, which is not evident in many other countries. We believe that by understanding the weight of multilingualism as part of the structures of the Finnish society, immigrants have more possibilities to use the opportunities given by our society and to contribute to the development of its future.
The writers of this text, Ahmed Hassan and Konsta Savolainen work for the employment of immigrants in a company founded by them. Through NordicSom they want to contribute to the development of the Nordic Somali community’s members as active participants in societal processes.
Translation from Finnish into English: Outi Korhonen