By Enrique Tessieri
Native American Louie Gone asks an interesting question: Why isn’t a person’s “mixed” heritage acknowledged of all places in a country like the United States? How does Finland support identity development and what kind of exclusion or inclusion does it promote?
I visited this week an elementary school in Eastern Finland and saw a bunch of posters hanging on the walls with different names of countries, flags, and how to count up to three in languages such as Arabic, Denga and others.
While I am certain that the teachers’ intention at the school is to promote respect for diversity, one could ask if it actually doest that.
Why doesn’t the school promote the idea that the children can discover, put into practice and celebrate their new Finnish or hybrid identity on their terms?
What is interesting is that these so-called students with immigrant backgrounds have lived most of their lives in Finland.
It would be far-reaching and probably make some Finns uncomfortable if we’d empower children and people with culturally diverse backgrounds the right to belong and influence our culture as equals. That would require a very strong dose of acceptance, a word that it rarely used by politicians in this country.
The last people to use terms like mutual acceptance and respect for diversity in Finland would be those that are pushing and placing people in different ethnic categories. They do so with the same intention as Gone mentioned: To conquer and rule.
If I were the principle of that elementary school in Eastern Finland, I would have asked the students to draw the flags of their former home countries together with the Finnish one and then mix them together and imagine how fortunate they are.
Thank you for the heads up @getgln!