Hermina Jakupović has a short break. Working for the University of Eastern Finland, Hermina, 26 is a researcher at a brain cancer research project. She began working at the university already while finishing her Master degree in biomedical studies. The open atmosphere and international community of the university receives nothing but praise from Hermina. University as a work place felt right from the beginning.
Determined and ambitious Hermina arrived in Finland as a toddler. Regarding her refugee background she has chosen to be vocal about it.
“It’s more important to talk than to be silent. Being quiet only fuels racist atmosphere. If nobody interferes, wrong attitudes will be considered normal. ”
Courage also has its price. By giving her own face and name to the refugee debate, Hermina has also received some nasty messages, for example through Facebook. Still she is not afraid. Social media has made racist commenting much more brutal and easier, Hermina describes the comments. From the decision-makers she calls for more intervention.
“I feel not everyone shares the common set of morals and values.”
Long shadow of war
Hermina arrived in Finland with her parents and little sister through Karlovac refugee camp from the former Yugoslavia. Hermina’s parents took on Finnish lessons and entered work life quite soon. Beginning new life in Finland was not easy, but it helped that Hermina’s parents were educated and well-traveled.
Repairing the mental wounds of war took longer. Parents are still mourning the years they lost in war. Hermina describes her parents as survivors, who have not given up despite hardships.
Hermina has no personal memories from the war, but as a small child she was afraid of loud noises.
Despite having a refugee background Hermina says she did not go through an identity crises. She sees her background as an asset.
“I feel at home where ever I am. I identify myself as European and a scientist. Differences between people have more to do with education and things like hobbies and climate, than the country of origin.”
Calling for more compassion
The refugee situation is much talked subject within the Jakupović family. They all follow keenly the developments in Syria. Hermina feels strongly that people must be assisted when they need help. She emphasizes that Finland also received help during and after the war. Even Syria received refugees from Europe after the Second World War.
“I would not be alive if there would have been a “close the borders” mentality in Finland when we arrived.”
Hermina reminds that no one leaves their home lightly. Decision is made only after there is no other choice.
“No one gives up their relatives, memories, degrees, dreams and life just to live somewhere else.”
Considering her own future Hermina keeps options open, in future she sees herself also living outside Finland. Having a career in the academic world it is important to study, learn and collect influence from many sources. With her studies Hermina has boldly challenged herself and she recommends that to others as well.
“Even if you have had huge setbacks in life, it does not mean that you are sidetracked permanently. You still have all the options open. It is important to move forward, not to be stuck in only dreaming about the future.”
Editor: Anna Gustafsson
United Nation’s facts about refugees:
– There are more refugees in the world today than ever, around 22.5 million. Half of them are children.
– More than half of the world’s refugees come from three countries: Syria, Afghanistan and South Sudan.
– Most of the world’s refugees are in Turkey, almost three million.
– The fastest growing refugee group is fleeing from South Sudan.
– Every minute 20 people worldwide have to leave their homes.