Hi everyone, my name’s Lian and I started my 6 week-long internship with Jade Activity Center in January. In Europe, Finland is the first country to face steep aging due to post-war (1945-1949) cohorts. According to Tilastokeskus, in 2010 the ratio of seniors above the age of 65 was 15%, while 7 years later in 2017, the number has dramatically increased to 21.4%. In the near future this number would expand even faster since more immigrants in Finland are stepping into the pensioners’ age as well. Owing to the fact that the most efficient way of maintaining a healthy society is by improving people’s opportunities for wellbeing and enhancing their capabilities, immigrants seniors social inclusion issues should be noticed by the Finnish society, which is also why I believe that organizations like Jade should be recognized and supported by more people.
This is the fourth week of my internship, so far I have enjoyed working at Jade. Luckily I have 2 great supervisors Susanna and Inka to mentor me through my placement. It’s has been really rewarding to participate and study about how Jade activity center functions. Democracy and equality is respected here. Everyone’s free to express their opinions except for debates that’s related to religion or politics. According to me, in Jade, the most appealing system would be the annual group representatives election which functions like a mini parliament. Each ethnic group would elect their own representatives, whom will take the responsibility and guide the group for the whole year until the next election. During the election, anyone can nominate themselves and give a passionate speech about why they are running for the position. Voting is taken anonymously. Experts are also invited to individual groups to explain about Finnish election system when it’s around the parliament election period. All the service users take this seriously, which is an excellent start for understanding and integrating into Finnish society.
Interaction with the service users has also been a great learning process for me. By my observation almost all of the activities that Jade organizes would lead to integration to some extent. For instance, game evening leading by Jari, all the participates would play board games such as scrabble together which they can practice and learn more Finnish vocab. Another example would be knitting course taught by the Finnish senior volunteers, our volunteer ladies are very patient and supportive, they explain everything in easy Finnish so that the Somali seniors could study a new hobby while learning Finnish at the same time.
So far, the most valuable perspective I have learnt from the service users would be, despite the fact that most of the seniors would like to help their children out with taking care of the little ones or some portion of the chores even, they still longing for interactions outside of their home, hobbies and activities which they could participate with their friends. It is said by the service users that, Jade activity time is the only time when they get to hangout with friends.