Internationals in Seinäjoki 1/6
During my last week of being a summer reporter I got to do the real reporter thing: I interviewed people. I had six very interesting interviews with seven really different and great characters. All of them about the same topic: integration in Seinäjoki. Why are you in Seinäjoki? What do you like about it? What difficulties did you have?
First I want to introduce you to Dahlia. She was also the first one who I got to interview:
What is your name?
Where are you from?
Dahlia was born in Clarendon, Jamaica, but her home is now in Mandeville, Manchester, Jamaica.
How long have you been in Seinäjoki?
Why are you in Seinäjoki?
Dahlia is married to a Finn.
What are you doing in Seinäjoki?
Dahlia has done work training at the Apila library in Finnish Language course at Sedu. She is now retired, and spends a lot of time writing and sculpturing.
Did you have any difficulties when you came here? Do you feel well integrated?
"Absolutely none, no difficulties.", Dahlia said. In those 4 year she hasn’t ever faced any racism against her. She sees the only small difficulty in the language, which isn’t actually a big problem because there has been only one person that she met in Finland so far, who didn’t speak English. "It’s also about how you approach people. You can be different, but you should always be willing to integrate and make an effort yourself."
What do you miss about Jamaica?
"The sunshine and my family." But Dahlia also has her "extended family" – her husband’s family – here in Finland, which she is really happy about.
What would you miss about Finland if you were back in Jamaica?
"The spring and the changing of the seasons in general." Because in Jamaica there are only two seasons: the rainy season and the hurricane season, she told. But she would also miss the summer days in the market square in Seinäjoki and especially the peaceful society. "In Jamaica people are very noisy and there’s music everywhere 24/7. They are noisey but really kind people.", Dahlia explained laughing. She also loves what a secure country Finland is. When she saw a child walking alone on the street for the first time, she was really surprised and wanted to call the police. In Venezuela, Spain and in the USA, where Dahlia lived before, this wouldn’t be possible. Children aren’t that safe in those places. Another thing she wouldn’t like to miss is the berry picking in the forests. "It’s not only about getting the berries. There is something very spiritual about it. The oneness with the nature. It’s mystic."
Which things would you take with you to Jamaica?
The spring, the security, the people she has met. But also maybe the makkaras, she said. She has started to like them this summer. Also she is one of the rare persons who like Mämmi and she would take that and Sima with her. Most important thing that Dahlia would take to home are the libraries. "There are libraries also in Jamaica", she said, "but here the libraries are so different." One of her wishes would be to open a library in Jamaica that is like the Finnish libraries.
What is your favourite place in Seinäjoki?
The library. And the market square during the summer. But Dahlia also likes the Hallilanvouri a lot – or like she said it "the bump" – because she loves walking. "There are many good runners from Jamaica because we walk so much." In Jamaica the landscape is full of mountains but there are not so many cars. Not everybody can own a car and therefore people are used to walking everywhere. "My mother is 98 and until two years ago she has been always walking a lot." Once when she and her husband visited, they were eating mangos, her mother disappeared for half an hour because she walked to that one farm to get some small, really good mangos for them, Dahlias husband told me with a big smile on his face.
Text and photo: Anja Kaufmann