Three years have passed since I arrived in Finland and it is a good time to sum up and reflect on my experiences here. Each person faces challenges and obstacles in a new environment because we are not used to changes as it causes stress and discomfort. I was not an exception though. I had lived in different countries prior to Finland. The term ”culture shock” was something familiar to me. At the same time, I cannot say that my adjustment in Finland was progressing fast and smoothly.
Since the 25th of July 2021, the eyes of many people are on Tunisia. That day, the President of the Republic, Kais Saied, invoked the emergency article of Tunisia’s constitution, dismissed the Prime Minister, froze the activity of the Parliament and lifted the immunity from its members.
A few hours before these decisions, many Tunisians took to the street under an excruciating 40°C midday sun and in violation of the COVID 19 restrictions to express their anger, dismay and dissatisfaction calling for the dissolution of the Parliament.
There are many obstacles to the reform of the current world order. Counter-perceptions and ingrained thoughts are so strong that many simply do not care to deal with the problem. The globe is too fragmented, the nation states are strong, and the great powers will never give up their privileges.
The nation states do not disappear, but they should, in their own interest, agree to new rules of the game.
When community meetings are held to determine priority development projects in villages, in neighborhoods, in schools, in agricultural fields—wherever they may take place—we want to speak the language that is spoken there, spoken every day. The idea of a person or a community of people exploring what they most want in their lives should be as real and as connected to their notion of "self" as possible.
Today is International Youth Day. It should be celebrated as such, but like many of the days designated by the UN, it passes by rather unnoticed. For me, the day, the month and the year have a personal meaning. Thirty years ago, a couple of American friends and I founded the International Youth Foundation, which over the years has become a major player in preventive youth work.
The pandemic has led to a serious relapse of pure nationalism. This is the diagnosis that now seems to apply. Closed borders, lack of solidarity in the distribution of vaccines, suspicion of nations perceived as `guilty` of the origin and spread of the virus. Maybe all this will disappear when the pandemic is over (when?), Maybe not.
There are almost 300 000 citizens in Espoo of whom 50 000 doesn’t speak Finnish or Swedish as native language. The change has been rapid when comparing to my time as a schoolkid. For example, every fourth of my children’s classmates speaks something else than Finnish or Swedish as their native language.
Four years ago, I grabbed to this matter and as a result the city strategy of Espoo mentions the use of English as an “official service language”
The COVID-19 pandemic has been hanging around in the world for more than one year. Although we have seen some signs of relief, yet it is far from being over. While the whole world is trying to control the disease, everyone is also thinking about and planning for the blueprint for a post-pandemic era economic recovery.
Running for municipal elections as a foreigner in a small city near Helsinki, without mastering the language, seems like a bad idea. It isn't if your goal is to improve stuff and not simply to get votes. This might seem like a detail, but it isn't. Professional politicians are obsessed with votes, it guarantees their relevance and salaries. And of course everyone needs to feel relevant, but politics should not be a job. It should be a civic duty and a right, and this must be changed fast if we are to improve politics itself.
On March 20th, the Turkish government issued a presidential decree nullifying Ankara’s commitment to the Istanbul Convention, the landmark international treaty on the rights of women and girls.
"The Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence, shall be terminated on the part of Turkey.” read the decree, which was disseminated via run media.