Monthly Archives

August 2016

"If you are ambitious, you'd succeed everywhere!"

Commentary, Finnish Culture

I’m honestly puzzled when people answer the above as a justification to the proposition of why a person should not be in a certain industry/place because he/she is ambitious.

The following are also variants:

  • If you are rich, you’d succeed everywhere!”
  • If you are smart, you’d succeed everywhere!”
  • If you are pretty, you’d succeed everywhere!”

I mean, don’t people see how silly these responses are to contextual arguments??

Possible initial propositions are:

  • Hmm if you are rich, maybe you should go to Singapore because taxes are lower. So that you get higher returns on investments.”
  • If you are smart, maybe you should spend time doing internship too instead of just studying academically. Because then you’d get other perspectives.”
  • If you are pretty, maybe it is a wise idea to also be hardworking, because beauty fades.”

Of course “if you are _____, you can always succeed anywhere”. The question is how fast/ how easy/ what is the return on investment/ effort.

Sometimes the erstupidity pseudo self-righteousness behind arguments/ responses makes me sooooooo bewildered that I really wonder why I take the time to write contextual posts if I invite such comments.

What I didn’t realise is that I should be expecting and dealing with strawman arguments in real life too, because a lot of people DO read this blog!

Then I have to deal with strawman arguments on the spot.


Oh wait, or maybe I don’t. 

The thing about dealing with strawman arguments is this: You have to entertain the imaginations of the people who make those statements. It’s like dealing with their unresolved childhoods and unresolved emotional burdens behind what they imagined you said, instead of what you really said.

In fact they don’t even know what you really said.

Because the tendency to make strawman arguments hinges on the fact that articles are not read in context

An example of the strawman argument is this

  • 1–“Proposition A is bad for our community and costs taxpayers too much money.”
  • 2–“So what you’re saying is we should put every citizen behind bars and make everything free?”

Seriously, whenever I hear things like that I get mildly agitated. It amazes me constantly how things are not read in the original context. Then I’d respond with “er, you do understand that the responses reveal more about you, than me, right?”

Then I started thinking of how to respond. Perhaps a really good idea in future I’d take, really, is to:

  • Smile and ignore;
  • Smile and walk away.
  • [In work situations] PRINT out exactly what is written, and go line by line in logical argument and exact statements patiently, because I am paid to do so. Focus on that which is written, clear and verifiable instead of something that is voodoo.

In general, don’t bother and don’t waste time. Neither should you change if you do attract many good and hardworking people because of what you say.

Because why? People who make strawman responses and get all emotional about it will never collaborate or do things in line with your vision anyway.

Actually, speaking your mind online/ receiving strawman attacks might serve as a good filter too. It attracts people who thinks like you to you, and repels people who have their own unresolved burdens away from you. Because if people read this blog before they ever meet me, they can decide whether or not they agree with my views (or my views they imagined to be).

So if they attack me for such XYZ imagined views taken out of context without seeking clarifications to what I am saying, it’s really not my problem, and neither can I change anything.

Therefore, I should actually speak my mind more, not less. Because it will attract like-minded, positive go-getters like myself to me. For great brands/ personalities will always polarise. 🙂 It’s always wise to check back on verifiable facts instead of voodoo imagination.

Hmm good realisation and I shall apply it more to my life. OK off to work bye!

[The Hieno! Suomi 100] "What is Finnish-ness" project is officially approved by the Prime Minister's Office!~ :)

Official Finland 100 Series Endorsed by Prime Minister's Office

Yay! I was over the moon when I saw the notification email below yesterday sent by the Prime Minister’s Office in Finland. ^-^


So today, I want to write a candid piece about what this “What is Finnish-ness” initiative is all about. You can find the official version here.

What is ww’s story behind this initiative?

In a gist: It’s because as a graduate student who did her Masters in Corporate Communications/PR at Aalto University, I’d always felt that “the real situation” in Finland, for Finland as a nation, has been really muted.

It’s probably because the main discourse has always been in Finnish, and nobody really found the need to do something in English, which is really the more global language.

So it came to a point when I thought about the definition of terms, and to be precise–Exactly what is Finnish-ness? Who decides? How does globalisation affect it?

For example, Why do we see overtly racist videos like this in Finland? Why do we have Finns celebrating KKK and being so passionately against immigration?

Is it mere “sensationalism” by the media, or are Finns really in “denial”? Why is the current construct on inclusivity shrouded with negativity?

Clearly, this group of “native Finns” feel strongly and differently about “Finnish-ness” vis-a-vis groups of non-white Finns, or tax-paying, law-abiding foreigners who have made Finland their home.

As non-natives, do we really need to say “Can you not be so racist” to every single criticism made to what constitutes as “Finnish-ness”? As Finns, do they really need to say “If you are not happy, you are truly an ungrateful foreigner?”

I personally believe that the discourse on national identity can be made a positive one–For the people, by the people. 

So I thought, wouldn’t it be cool if we interview some of them–people with ties to Finland, who are super positive in spite of the various challenges they have faced in and outside of Finland– and make this a Finland 100 project?

So I decided to do it! HAHA. I sent in an application to the Prime Minister’s Office, and got the approval yesterday! 🙂

Therefore, The Hieno! Suomi 100: What is “Finnish-ness” series is specially curated in a positive and constructive manner to illuminate the challenges, possible solutions, hopes and wishes of people who regard Finland as home.

Via the interviews of 35 special people, we listen to their stories, feel their hearts and appreciate greatly the diversity of Finland. These 35 people are nominated, or have distinguished/ interesting stories by their own rights.

All interviews will be placed online, on this blog The Hieno! Currently, this blog is blessed with quite a lot of readers (it was something like 158,000+ reads in the month of August 2016) from the top five countries Singapore, Finland, UK, America, Australia. In addition, The Hieno! has been featured in Helsingin Sanomat before.

This project runs from now till May 2017, and stops after we have obtained all 35 interviews. All stories will be SEOed and archived for a long, long time to come.

HAHA! So in short, “What is Finnish-ness” is my exciting project for Finland 100.=) I’m really excited to hear from all 35 distinguished people. The page for this series will be updated as new interviews come in.

Enjoy! #thehienosuomi100

The Hieno! is the official partner of the Finland 100 independence programme: What is “Finnish-ness”? endorsed by the Prime Minister’s Office.

[The Hieno! Suomi 100 series] Interview with Enrique: journalist, sociologist, and editor at Migrant Tales.

Foreigners in Finland, Official Finland 100 Series Endorsed by Prime Minister's Office

The Hieno! is the official partner of the Finland 100 independence programme: What is “Finnish-ness”?  led by the Prime Minister’s Office. Today we have the huge privilege of having Enrique Tessieri as our second interviewee.

Enrique Tessieri is a journalist and sociologist who writes and researches immigration topics like Finnish immigration to Argentina. Tessieri has lectured on South American history at Turku University as well as written books and articles on immigration. He was a researcher at the Migration Institute of Turku and had worked as a foreign correspondent in Finland, Spain, Italy, Argentina and Colombia for the Financial Times, Buenos Aires Herald, BBC, Bridge News and others. Presently employed at Otava Folk High School, he is also the editor at Migrant Tales – one of the foremost blogs in Finland on immigration related issues.

Enjoy the interview!

WW: Hi Enrique! Can you tell us more about yourself?

Enrique: I am a sociologist who worked as a journalist for about 20 years as a foreign correspondent for newspapers like BridgeNews and the Financial Times in countries like Finland, Spain, Italy, Argentina and Colombia.

One of my favourite topics is cultural diversity and immigration, which I have researched as well.

WW: Why did you initially choose to live in Finland?

Enrique: I chose to live in Finland because of my Finnish roots. Even if I moved to Finland permanently in 1978, every ten years I move abroad to work. I do this because it is a good way to gain experience and new ideas.

WW: What do you see as your “place” in Finland when you were staying here?

Enrique: My “place” in Finland is to work for a successful culturally and ethnically diverse society that abides by Nordic values like social equality.

Finland is a very racialized country. We have to change this. Immigration and cultural diversity are positive, not negative, matters.

Too many Finns, I suspect, see cultural diversity as a threat. This is unfortunate and costly. We lose out on opportunities.

WW: What was the most important and meaningful event or experience that happened in Finland?

Enrique: The most important and meaningful event was when I discovered that Finland didn’t consider me to be a Finn despite the fact that my mother is Finnish.

Even if we have Finnish citizenship, we are not considered “real” Finns by some institutions like the police service, which label us as “persons with foreign background.”

What is “a person with foreign background” anyway? Is that a place, a country, or what?

WW: What was the happiest moment in your life in Finland?

Enrique: The happiest moments of my life in Finland were when I visited my grandparents in the country every year.

Rural Mikkeli was very different from hot and smoggy Los Angeles. It was those unforgettable summers that brought me back to live in Finland.

WW: Can you tell us what are the top 3 challenges you or foreigners you know have faced in Finland?

Enrique: The top-three challenges that foreigners face in Finland is to challenge discrimination and prejudice.

We should strive to build a society where difference is seen as a good matter.  We need to teach future generations of Finns that cultural diversity is a good matter and that there is no such thing as a “prototype Finn.”

Finns come in many ethnic and cultural backgrounds these days. The three challenges here are therefore:

(1) Building a society that it true to our Nordic ideals;

(2) Challenging racism; and

(3) Discrimination.

WW: Do you think there are solutions or better alternatives to how we think about these three challenges?

Enrique: Finland is a modern society that has built a successful welfare state that is on the defensive these days.

We have the tools and the knowledge as a society to build a successful culturally diverse society where people are treated equally irrespective of their background.

WW: We know that you started a website for migrants, “Migrant Tales”. What was the story and motivation behind this website?

Enrique: The first story published in Migrant Tales was in May 2007.

The blog has been important in dialoging and meeting people who are also involved in promoting cultural diversity.

Migrant Tales’ reason for being is simple: We are a blog community that debates some of the salient issues facing immigrants and minorities in Finland and elsewhere.

It aims to be a voice for those whose views and situation are understood poorly and heard faintly by the media, politicians, and public.

WW: Some people criticised the idea of “racism in Finland” as mere sensationalism. Do you agree? Why and why not?

Enrique: There are many forms of racism and discrimination in Finland.

Denial is one argument used by those who play down racism in Finland and elsewhere. The question we should ask is why do some of us deny racism.

Why is it denied at our schools by the police service and other institutions?

WW: You have been rather vocal with some of your criticisms of Finland. Were there any negative repercussions to this?

Enrique: I have received death threats and other forms of threats against me.

The first death threat I got was in 1991 after writing a story for Apu magazine on asylum seekers in Mikkeli, the city where I now live.

WW: What do you think are some of the popular misconceptions of Finland, Finns and foreigners in Finland? Can you share some of them with us?

Enrique: There are many urban tales but maybe one attitude is the biggest culprit: the perception that migration and cultural diversity are negative matters and therefore should be challenged.

How can anyone build bridges in this country if you are constantly under suspicion and near-constantly reminded that you are an eternal outsider?

Foreigners as well should be more vocal and aim to become active citizens of our society. Those people who don’t want you heard will be more than happy to see you collect welfare and live on the outer fringes of society.

WW: What are your dreams and visions for the future?

Enrique: My vision of Finland is a simple one: I want to live in a society where everyone, irrespective of their background, are treated with dignity and given opportunities to build a good future.

WW: Finland would be celebrating its 100 years of independence next year. What are your dreams and visions for Finland’s next 100 years?

Enrique: The Finland we’ll see in the next 100 years will be very different from today.

Let’s hope that we can build a prosperous society based on noble Nordic values like social equality and empathy.

WW: What is one advice you might have for aspiring foreigners who want to come to Finland?

Enrique: Just do it! Don’t let anyone sway you from your goal and dreams.

We hope you have enjoyed this interview. The Hieno! is the official partner of the Finland 100 independence programme: What is “Finnish-ness”? led by the Prime Minister’s Office. Feature photograph courtesy of Enrique.