In this week’s episode, Petra speaks with Alba, a multilingual counselor for Moniku Services in Espoo. Alba’s father is Italian, and her mother is Spanish. Although she has lived in Finland for eight years, Alba has also lived in both Spain and Italy.
Alba’s multicultural and multilingual background— she speaks Spanish, Italian, Finnish, and English— influenced her professional development. As an ambassador for Moniku palvelu, a language and cultural development service for families with young children, Alba relies on her multicultural background and her experience as a mother.
“It sounds great, speaking many languages,” she said. “But your brain thinks in many languages at the same time…. It can be a bit confusing sometimes.”
In addition to working with multicultural NGOs, Alba works as an ambassador for Moniku Services in Espoo, an EU/Erasmus+ funded project that helps families raise bilingual and multilingual children. Moniku offers language and cultural pride development services, as well as parenting guidance and resource location.
Moniku’s services are important, Alba explains, because multicultural parents might be reluctant to speak their native languages with their child or expose their children to their native cultures. This could be for many reasons; for example, families might fear impacting their child’s Finnish language learning.
Moreover, Moniku’s services are important in discouraging excessive early screen time and encouraging positive cultural engagement.
There are currently only three Moniku counselors in Espoo. They are all themselves immigrants, and most of them are also mothers. Alba believes that their backgrounds help them better understand the needs and concerns of their clients.
“We know what they need during this integration process,” Alba said.
Moniku began as a temporary project aimed at reducing inequality and usage of rehabilitation services among multicultural families. When the need for Moniku services continued to grow, however, the project was made permanent. Today, Alba serves about 15 families per week.
If you or someone you know might benefit from the services offered by Moniku in Espoo, there are a couple of ways you can contact Alba and her colleagues. When visiting a neuvola, or maternity center, a nurse might recommend Moniku services. Nurses at maternity centers in Espoo are able to book an appointment for you.
Moniku can also be found on Facebook and on Espoo’s city website— we’ll link those below. On their Facebook page, you will also find information about multilingual events happening in the city, as well as information about resources and care services.
There seems to be a lack of services for multicultural children above the age of six in Finland; however, Moniku information has recently become available in daycares throughout Espoo. If the need continues to grow, Alba said, it is likely that the services offered by Moniku will continue to expand.