THE STORY WAS UPDATED
Having taught many students about Finnish society for many years, two matters surprise me about this teaching line: Are the people giving these courses qualified and simple, 1 + 1 = 2, explanations to a complex matter as adaption.
If the integration model is overly simplistic, treat it with tweezers because its conclusions are suspect. Integration, adaption, or properly inclusion is a complex matter.
During my years as a teacher of these courses, I have requested material taught by other teachers. Not one white Finnish teacher has, however, has shared with me the material they teach newcomers about Finland.
I get the impression that the only requirement to teach newcomers about Finnish society is that you are a white Finn with some teaching background. Every white Finn knows what our culture is, right?
Telling newcomers about our society riddled with exceptionalism, ethnocentricm and even racism partly explain why, I suspect, that the majority of these people have no idea what kotoutuminen means or implies.
If you want an example of a 1 + 1 = 2 integration model, check out Perussuomalaiset (PS)* MP Kristian Sheikki Laakso’s tweet below, who affirms this is how you become a part of Finnish society.
Joy Aalto, who is a candidate for the upcoming municipal election in April for a party known for its hostile Islamophobic rants, gives us her recipe for integration:
- “When I came to Finland I learned the language, got a profession and found a job;
- This is how I became a Finn;
- Finland is a good country. Let’s keep it that way.”
While I am happy that Joy Aalto has found her place in Finland, is there something important missing in her statements?
- In 2019, there were a total of 11,288 native-born Thais in Finland, of which 78.9% were women most likely married to older white Finnish men;
- Thai males, who make up a small portion of the Thai native-born population, are different from the seasonal berry pickers who too many times have faced exploitation by Finnish companies;
- When Joy Aalto states, “keep Finland a good country,” does she say that people of color aren’t welcome?
- Is she suggesting that racism and discrimination will disappear after we have learned the language and found a job?
- Isn’t it suspect if a party like the PS, which spews racism left and right, is giving us advice on how foreigners should adapt in Finland?
- Kotoutuminen #1: A good synonym for kotoutuminen is too many times the reinforcement of structural racism
- Kotoutuminen #2: A tool of white fragility to rule you
- Kotoutuminen #3: To touch or not to touch
- Kotoutuminen #4: Amalgamate, assimilate is the rule, two-way adaption is a pipedream
- Kotoutuminen #5: Perpetuating the Ulysses syndrome, a chronic stress disorder of refugees
- Kotoutuminen #6: The white Finnish teacher and the migrant adult child. Stop infantilizing!
- Kotoutuminen #7: How do we deal with our prejudices and exceptionalism?
- Kotoutuminen #8: Let’s do away with “us” and “them”
- Kotoutuminen #9: Spreading half-truths about integration
- Kotoutuminen #10: Misleading expectations that will keep you (dis)integrated
- Kotoutuminen #11: The teacher asks the student why Muslims kill people
*Kotoutiminen is a he Finnish term for integration. It came about in the late-1990s because there was no such term in the Finnish language.