As part of my practice; a few weeks ago I got the opportunity to plan a group activity for our Somali ladies discussion group, around the theme of childhood memories from their cherished home country. I hoped to include a sensory element to the discussion. During my studies at Laurea UAS, I have learnt about the Multisensory method that the school has developed and have participated in different projects.
The multisensory method was developed with the aim of creating multisensory experiences; where the space is made up of different elements around a certain theme, that participants can see (picture, videos, artifacts), hear (music, sounds), taste (food, drink), smell (spices, herbs, food, drink) and touch (artifacts, materials). This sensory space then acts as “inspiration” for encounters and discussions around a theme. Such spaces may be used for learning, relaxation, passing on information but also promote wellbeing and a sense of community. There is also the idea that these spaces may awaken feelings, thoughts and memories in participants. Coincidentally I also came across the Somali memory suitcase that Jade had on loan at the time from the Helsinki City Museum. The suitcase contained past and present day utensils from both Somalia and Finland.
So with these things in mind, we had pictures of different aspects of Somali culture like food, Quran school, traditional houses and cooking utensils. We also had the beautiful artifacts from the memory suitcase at our table for everyone to have a feel of, the suitcase also included frankincense to which we added some spices. We spent time talking about the different pictures, scents and artifacts; what they were, the memories and thoughts that they awakened. The ladies sang and recited poetry which they explained were an integral part of Somali culture; from the making of food and herding of camels to important marriage traditions and customs.
We also talked about the aspects of Somali culture that are particularly important to them , memories of how they learnt about their culture (making food, handicrafts, traditions and customs) and how they can pass along these gems to the next generations even whilst living in another country. To this the ladies spoke about valuing where you are from and your culture. And how they felt that now as they immigrated to Finland they want to become part of this community, whilst also cherishing these values.
The discussion was all round interesting and I got to learn a lot about the Somali culture. It was also an opportunity to reflect on shared values and experiences. This kind of sharing also helps in finding points of connection between different cultures.
(Pictures: Laurea UAS & Taisekwa)