Finnish group gathering at the Tampere theme park Särkänniemi
Mervi Kaukko and Marja Tiilikainen
With the second Finnish workshop on the horizon, some participants, ambassadors and researchers from both the Turku and Tampere groups met for a social day at the local Tampere theme park, Särkänniemi, to touch base and to enjoy Finnish summer at its finest. While the local COVID-19 situation thankfully allowed for public social gatherings, it was a challenge to bring everyone together because the summer holidays had already begun and some were working and some travelling. Still, we managed to get a happy group together, including Finnish researchers Marja and Mervi and six participants.
We were lucky to learn that our ambassador Narges is a truly wonderful local tour guide. Through frequent WhatsApp-dialogue with the participants, she had planned a day that showcased the best sides of Tampere. We started with coffee and cake by the famous rapids of Tampere river and then took a scenic walk to Särkänniemi theme park, where all except one of the researchers (we won’t say which) were brave enough to try the rides.
A highlight for everyone was visiting the observation deck of the iconic Näsinneula tower, from where we had outstanding views over Tampere and its surrounding lakes.
After an afternoon of fun, the group moved to Mervi’s home for a dinner of lasagna and cake specially prepared by her big family.
The day was a success! Everyone was clearly pleased to meet and reconnect again. Conversations were picked up right where they’d been left off from the last meeting, and we also had some special reasons to celebrate. Two of the participants had just graduated from vocational school the week before; one as a dental nurse and the other as an electrician. The electrician left us for a while to have a job interview right when we were in the theme park, and he told us soon afterwards that he got the job. A third participant introduced us to his fiancé and announced that they would be getting married as soon as they get visas to the country where their families live.
The day was mostly about having fun, but we managed to touch on slightly more practical matters. As the upcoming second workshop will be about the future (the first was about the present), we wanted to explore with participants beforehand about what we mean by ‘future’. Where and when is future? In our discussion about it that day, most participants saw future as a time when some important goal is reached. For some, future meant getting a degree or a meaningful job and earning enough money to live independently. For others, it meant getting one’s family to Finland. So, rather than measuring future as particular number of days, months or years, the young people preferred to measure it with milestones of independence, self-sufficiency or reunion with family. This discussion, and others that the Norway and Scotland teams will have with their participants, help us develop ways to work with the notion of ‘future’ in the workshops that is both understandable and appropriate to participants, and at the same time consistent across all three countries.
The upcoming Finnish workshop will take place in Turku near the end of August 2021. We will write more about ‘the future’ then.