Based on nominations by the residents of Turku, the City of Turku chose Aydin Yilmaz as the New Citizen of Turku for 2015 and the Runokohtauksia project as the year’s Multicultural Act.

Aydin Yilmaz moved to Finland in the 2000s from the Kurdish region of Turkey. He lacked the necessary education, but gained a foothold in Turku and the business community with his hard work and perseverance. Yimaz owns two restaurants and employs Finns as well as immigrants. He also guides and helps immigrants in Finland to manage the demands of Finnish society.

‘The choice of Aydin Yilmaz as the year’s New Citizen of Turku reminds us that immigrants who work as entrepreneurs employ people and also promote the natural cooperation and work between cultures,’ states Mayor Aleksi Randell

Eight languages and twenty artists

The Runokohtauksia working group, which was chosen as the year’s Multicultural Act, involves Turku-based poets who have translated foreign-language poems by other Turku-based poets into Finnish despite not being proficient in the foreign language in question. The working method is the first of its kind: the poems were translated during meetings of the translation working groups by way of discussion and asking questions. Some working groups also included a cultural interpreter. The Runokohtauksia anthology will be published in summer 2015.

‘Meetings of this group of twenty people and eight languages have also involved various other topics of discussion besides poetry. We have also eaten, taken photographs, agreed on schedules and read completed translations together,’ says Marja Mäenpää, the project’s coordinator.

The poets involved in the project are Galina Inkeroinen and Andrei Karpin (Russian), Chiman Karim and Nzar Kwestani (Kurdish), Hashim Matouq and Sadik Al-Husseini (Arabic), Ainhoa González Llano (Spanish), Shahla Ezadi (Persian), Diana Mistera (Italian) and Abdi Abshir Dhoore (Somali). Their poems were translated into Finnish by the poets Esa Hirvonen, Juha Kulmala, Timo Harju, Terhi Hannula, Tommi Parkko and Daniil Kozlov. Marja Liisa Valtanen, Lora Karim, Ali Rabiee, Irinja Karpina and Alas Ali served as cultural interpreters.

‘The Runokohtauksia project unites poets from different cultures in a unique and inventive way, and the anthology will make the poems available to Finnish readers. The project is a fine choice for the year’s Multicultural Act,’ says Randell.

Lifetime achievement award for Pertti Widen

Pertti Widen (MA) has had an extensive career as a researcher and promoter of cultural diversity and intercultural communication. During his forty-year career as a lecturer at Turku School of Economics, Widen conducted significant research in the field and taught the skills required to become an expert and perform practical work in the field of intercultural communication to dozens of generations of students. Widen has also coached Finnish and foreign companies and their personnel in removing communication problems and improving the efficiency of their operations.

Awards will be presented at a celebration for new citizens of Finland on 25 March 2015

The celebration will be a joint event between the municipalities in the Turku region for congratulating the more than 400 residents of Kaarina, Lieto, Masku, Mynämäki, Naantali, Nousiainen, Paimio, Raisio, Rusko and Turku who received Finnish citizenship last year.