Our panel discussion


On March 12, we had a panel discussion on the topic of multiculturalism in educational and professional contexts. We had spent a couple of weeks organizing this panel. We advertised our panel on Facebook and also put up posters around campus.

We – Alice, Sole and Sofie – were interested in discussing how we foster and facilitate sucessful intercultural encounters. We were interested to find out what needs to be done to increase awareness of cultural diversity and its benefits, but we also wished to examine the challenges. We believe that a good place to start is in education, as most people tend to form their beliefs when they go through the education system. Therefore, we invited panellists who either teach or work in fields related to education.

We had 5 panellists:

  • Dr. Obert Hodzi, Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Helsinki
  • Mari Tammisari, Arts HR Services at Aalto University
  • Nasibeh S. Hedayati, Doctoral Student and Researcher at the University of Helsinki
  • Petronella Lehtelä, Project Coordinator at “Minun Silmin Sinun Silmin” at the City of Helsinki  Executive Office Safety and Preparedness Unit
  • Anna Mikander, Ministry of Education and Culture, Department for General Education and Early Childhood Education

The panellists all arrived on time, and before the panel began at 10 AM, we had some coffee and tea and some informal chit chat.

We began our panel by asking our panellists to introduce themselves, so the audience had an idea of what backgrounds our panellists brought to the discussion. We had sent out 3 questions to our panellists prior to our debate, and the questions were as following:

  1. Based on your experience, what are the most challenging issues in a multicultural working environment?
  2. How much importance should be placed on creating diverse environments in education in a majority white country like Finland?
  3. Do you think that issues related to stereotyping and other biases should be discussed with students and teachers, and perhaps included in the curriculum/professional development courses?

There were a lot of interesting points to take from the discussion that lasted an hour and a half. Our panellists were all very engaged and all had very insightful contributions to the debate.  In fact, our panellists were all so engaged that we did not have time to go through all our questions, which we believe was a sign that the discussion was flowing! The audience was also very active, and asked questions throughout the discussion.

We would like to thank everyone who came to the debate. A huge thank you to our panellists who all took time out of their busy schedules to take part. It was a fruitful discussion on a pressing topic. We were encouraged to upscale the event and perhaps partner with a civil society organisation – we will aim to do this during the academic year 2019-2020, so stay tuned!