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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: "Sverigefinnar gick igenom det andra invandrare går igenom idag"

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When my maternal grandparents came here, there was a lot of overt racism.

They lived in a segregated area, they found it harder to get a job.

All of those bits. People made remarks as soon as they opened their mouth.

"What a funny surname!" and what have you.

Sweden Finns are often considered the first immigrants to face racism here-

-but what's it like to be a Sweden Finn today?

Do you know how many Sweden Finns there are in Sweden today?

-Take a guess. -700,000.

-Around half a million. -Crazy! That's the exact number I have.

-I've worked with this, so I'm biased. -You were just pretending to guess.

So, yes. There are over 700,000 people-

-including the second and third generation.

Do you think there's prejudice about Sweden Finns today?

A lot. We're vodka drinkers, sauna bathers, knife carriers-

-a bit aggressive perhaps, or having a temper.

-Is the prejudice the same for Finns? -Yes.

So you face the same prejudice?

-What about you guys? -I often have to assert myself a bit.

"You're not blonde, you're not white."

They can't get their head around the fact that mixed people do exist.

-You're not allowed to be Finnish? -That doesn't work for most people.

Do you hear it from non-Finns or even from people who are from Finland?

I've only heard it from Swedes. I don't know why, but that's the way it is.

I've faced both negative and slightly positive prejudice.

I was told by my employer that Finns have a great work ethic.

"You're so efficient and committed." But apart from that, it's the same.

Alcoholics, factory and industrial workers...

I've also been told that Finnish is an ugly language.

I'm like: "Oh, we're not even talking about that, but great! Now I know."

I've also heard that, out of nowhere:

"Finnish is the ugliest thing ever, it makes me feel sick."

-A friend unexpectedly said that. -How did you react?

I was shocked. I was with people in my class, talking about something-

-and it was brought up, maybe that I speak Finnish, and someone said:

"It's so ugly, it sounds horrendous!" Something to that effect.

I didn't say anything, because you just... What can I say? "OK, thanks."

Or what? It's not like I want to speak it more openly after that.

The positive prejudice you mentioned, like "Finns are hard workers"-

-is that really positive?

It's still prejudice, it's still a generalisation.

To work hard can be something positive, and I took it as a compliment.

Sure, that's me. I think I'm a hard worker.

But why do you need to say that? You don't know me. This is a job interview.

Why do you still feel the need to generalise?

But it has a negative background, too.

People don't know much about Finland here in Sweden-

-despite sharing a common history of 600 years.

-And despite us being neighbours. -Right!

We have so much in common.

But the Finns have been through a lot, many wars, unlike Sweden.

Here, we've had long periods of peace. Death's been tidied away.

Many came here... My Dad and my grandparents came here-

-and they worked hard, but they had to.

-Why did they come here? -There were no jobs in Finland.

It's a country that's risen from the ashes.

Many people looked elsewhere and still do today.

They come here to try to create a life here.

That's where the work ethic comes in. They simply had no choice.

They had to move to a foreign country and just do what they had to do.

I also have that work ethic in a way. I work hard, perhaps too hard at times.

It's a positive thing in some ways-

-but it does have a negative background, once you know the facts.

The same thing with my grandparents. He came here alone.

He left a tiny baby and my grandma, because they were so poor.

It makes you realise how bad it was, that you're prepared to do that.

You leave your baby to try to get a better life.

-Of course you work hard! -Yes.

Have you heard many jokes about Finns and Sweden Finns?

-Yes. -What do people say?

At parties, people go, "Where's your bottle of Koskenkorva vodka?"

And in the sauna: "The Finn should be at the top, closest to the heater."

Sometimes it's OK, it's quite funny. I like to joke about it, too.

I'm open about it. But sometimes it's quite unnecessary and irrelevant.

Have you ever felt lonely because you didn't have Sweden Finns around you?

I remember feeling quite lonely in primary school-

-when I couldn't study my mother tongue-

-because there were too few of us who spoke Finnish.

I felt quite lonely. "OK, but it's still my right."

I've always spoken Finnish at home, and I eventually got to study it.

In sixth form it was a given. There were more of us at one school-

-but it was really hard at primary school.

-Do you also speak Finnish? -Yes, to me it's always been a given.

I was raised in a bilingual town, I went to a bilingual school-

-so I had Finnish classes between years 1-9.

And I have it at home. My mum and I only speak Finnish, she's 1st generation.

-And you, Sara? -I speak Finnish.

I often respond in Swedish, but my mum's always spoken Finnish.

I alternate between the two.

But I come from a relatively small town, so it was just like your experience.

It was like: "There are three people in this town, it's not happening."

-It hasn't been encouraged. -Is Finnish important to you now?

Yes, really important. I would love to become more confident speaking.

I have some facts here. It's a little history lesson.

Sweden Finns are one of Sweden's five minorities-

-and Finland was a part of Sweden for 700 years, with many moving across.

Many children of war arrived during World War II.

In the '60s and '70s, many workers arrived in Sweden.

Do you talk about this stuff with your parents?

You mentioned that your grandparents fled here.

It's a common topic, partly because I want to know why we're here-

-and what it was like when we came.

The prejudice was part of my childhood. I heard it, just like my parents did.

I was born and raised in a border town, and this was at the core.

Many of these incidents started there, so I've really...

As a child, I took part in a play, "The Ragged Doll"-

-about these children of war who were given a little rag doll.

Segregation is a hot topic today, with new groups finding it hard to integrate-

-which might lead to unemployment, crime and isolation.

Can you relate to the prejudice facing immigrants now, compared to your past?

Not personally. I've been lucky enough to grow up in quite a nice area-

-but that's exactly what it was like for my grandparents and my mum.

It was a segregated area, and the circumstances were the same-

-with the same prejudice and racism that they were victims of as people are today.

There are many comparisons.

I can relate to what my parents have told me-

-feeling like an outsider or unaccepted by the Swedes.

It's often Swedes that are prejudiced, at least against my family.

Right now, it feels like Sweden Finns are accepted by the majority.

A lot of time has passed. People don't really care when I'm out and about.

Nothing marks me out as a Sweden Finn. I don't feel threatened.

Other minorities are persecuted and hated on a completely different level.

But I've had access to the majority, and I can relate to what my parents say-

-and how they speak of new arrivals.

Can the rest of you relate to the prejudice that immigrants face?

I agree with Kalle, apart from the fact that my accent says it all.

I have a Finnish accent, and a northern accent on top of that.

It's a double whammy for me.

-Sara, can you relate? -Partly. I can compare it to my dad.

He's a first-generation immigrant, but from Burma.

People base their prejudice on your looks.

But for my grandparents, however, it was based on how they spoke.

On where they worked, and where they lived, et cetera.

But if you turn it around, do you think that other outsiders can relate to this?

What we see today is history repeating itself.

I don't know if they can relate to Sweden Finns in particular-

-or Finns that came here in the '60s and '70s-

-but it's the same symptoms and tendencies.

When my maternal grandparents came here, there was a lot of overt racism.

They lived in a segregated area, they found it harder to get a job.

All of those bits. People made remarks as soon as they opened their mouth.

"What a funny surname!" and what have you.

It's similar now, it's just repeating itself.

That's why it's important to talk about it.

If we've experienced feeling like an outsider-

-it's important for us to talk about it, not care and speak loudly in Finnish.

I've told Mum to be quiet lots of times. I found it awkward in shops-

-or on the tram, or on the bus.

These days, it's really important to me to show other minorities-

-some sort of moral courage. We speak Finnish!

It's something small that could make a big difference.

It's an important task. We carry this baggage-

-so what we can do is be ourselves and speak up when people are rude.

It also happens that we forget what we've been through.

We might be turncoats, being prejudiced against others.

But we've experienced the same prejudice.

-What do you think? -I totally agree.

I can tell when people joke because they think it's OK-

-or they say it to be mean while hiding it with a joke.

It's so obvious, and I just go:

"I don't want to hang out with you. This is all you get. I won't change."

I'm open about being a Sweden Finn, and I'm not ashamed of it.

If they don't like it, tough!

What's the most positive thing about being Sweden Finns? Sara?

You get a bit more, you become something more.

I think Finnish is a beautiful language. It's great to be able to speak it.

I love it too, it's beautiful. I love speaking Finnish-

-because you can express yourself in a different way.

It depends on the situation which language works best.

My language skills in general have been a big plus applying for jobs.

And when you study other languages, it's a bit easier to learn.

It's the same for me. All jobs I've had I've got because I've made that clear.

"I speak Finnish!" Even if I didn't think I was good enough, it was important.

It's amazing, because when I hear someone speak it-

-I want to speak it too so they know we're mutuals. It's a great icebreaker.

With a few words, you're on a different level, discussing many topics.

-You relate to each other and feel safe. -You connect.

Exactly! And it's nice being in Finland and just...

I can be a Finn and speak Finnish. Nobody knows I'm from Sweden.

You feel a bit like an undercover agent.

Guys, thanks for taking part today. - Thanks for watching.

If there's a topic you want us to discuss, contact us on our social media.

See you soon, take care!

I lied, by the way. I said "see you soon".

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