Ávarp í setningu námsstefnu í Viðey


Komið þið sæl og blessuð. Toshiki Toma heiti ég og ég er starfandi sem prestur innflytjenda hérlendis. Það er mér sérstök ánægja að fá að segja nokkur orð á setningu þessarar spennandi námsstefnu og ég þakka ykkur innilega fyrir það tækifæri. Svandís bað mig að segja nokkur orð í upphafi bæði á jápönsku og íslensku. Nú er því skylduverki lokið svo að ég tek upp enskutal.

Dr. Sauli Puukari, dr. Marjatta Lairio, welcome to Iceland. I hope that you enjoy staying in Iceland and being with Icelandic people, and that you be fond of this country. I am sure that we all appreciate your presence in this study conference and we are looking forward to learning from you and also having discussions with you.

I saw in the introduction for this conference that the number of foreigners,who had their legal domiciles in Iceland at the end of 2001, was 9.850. I am one of these 9.850. This number doesn’t include the people who have already got the Icelandic citizenship or the children who were born among Icelandic- foreign parents. So if we count those, the number of the “foreign origins” would be doubled or even tripled.

This fact has surely given and is giving change into the Icelandic society. I’ ve been here for 10 years, and I can see certain differences now compared to the days 10 years ago. Of course partly I have changed myself and adjusted to Icelandic life, but the society is moving to the direction of multi-cultural diversity. We can hear more often the word “multi-culturalism” now in the positive meaning and things that were only ideas and theories 10 years ago are becomig some concrete policy or actions here and there. Also the “multi-culturalism” meant perhaps not more than to appreciate exotic foods and music only a few years ago. It was so superficial. But now the same word “multi-culturalism” is about to penetrate into deeper structures of the society, such as the school systems, the healthcare systems, religions and etc. “Multi-culturalism” is beginning to face the traditional value of society.

So I predict personally, that the idea of “multi- culturalism” will have more critical reactions in the coming years, because it has begun to concern “real issues” in society where people cannot make easy compromises. So those who are for “multi-culturalism” have to continue to work on this matter and to deepen the understanding of the value of “multi-culturalism” and open real discussions more than until now. This is regarding the “multi-culturality” generally in the society.

I suppose most of us today here are working as advisers or counselors more or less. Which means we are facing living individuals basically in our job. When we add this factor of living persons or individuals into the context of multi-culturality, I think, things become 100 times more complicated than when we discuss about multi-culturality and society. I suppose that each one of you has some kind of experience, of a difficult case because the client has obviously diffrent values than our usual ones and the client happens to be of foreign origins or a believer of some unfamiliar religion. In such a time we think, “Is this peculiarity because of this person’s cultural back ground? Or is this only just for this person?”. This is a very difficult question to answer and even a sensitive question, because it reflects how we define an indivudual as an independent existence from cultural or social enviroments or how we understand a person in the context og various cultural and social enviroments.

Perhaps we can say that, if we call the theory of multi-culturalism in society as a whole, the macro-perspective, then we can call the theory of multi-culturality of individuals micro- perspective. An individual can be a small world where multi-cultural streams meet.

I have no doubt about the necessity and importance of that we have to study more and develop the micro-perspective in our multi-cultural discussions. And I have a high hope in addition regarding this. In this process of developing the micro-perspective of multi-culturalism, our traditional theory like about the Icelandic culture and foreign cultures or about the Christian culture and the Islamic one would meet the another streams of multi-culturality in this society, that is about the life style of disable people and also of mentally sick people or the gay culture. Namely traditional minorities in the society. I think these two streams, on one hand the global multi-culturalism and on the other hand the integration between the major culture and minor cultures in one society,

would find a place for a dialogue in the process of persuing the micro-perspective of multi-culturalism.

I ’d like to close my opening remark by mentioning this. We are serving in different institutes or organizations. But so long as we wish to improve the society in a better direction, seeing the multi-culturality in a positive view, we are colleagues an co-workers. We are on the same side and we are supposed to lend a helping hand to each other. We are not enermies nor competitors. So we share our good results and experiences, we share our mistakes and reflectinos on them. We encourage each other and sometimes give comfort. That’s how we work. I wish you will confirm this simple but important fact at the very begining of this important conference.

Thank you very much, kærar þakkir, and KITOSI.

(Prestur innflytjenda; 17. október 2002  í Víðey)