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The first refugees in Jyväskylä qualify as integration experts by experience

The first seven integration experts by experience, each with a refugee background, have completed their training. They received their diplomas on 6 August in Jyväskylä. The experts by experience are now ready to share their knowledge and experiences about integrating into Finnish society with newcomers and develop integration-related services.

The experts by experience who recently received their diplomas have qualified for their role based on their personal experiences as refugees. Through training, they have gained the skills required to serve as experts by experience. The training took place this summer, and it included 60 hours of lectures and group meetings as well as site visits and practical training.

“The experts by experience have personal experiences of what it means to be a refugee and integrate into a new society, which have been structured into life stories during the training. The trainees also discussed their achievements and challenges related to integration and even how these can be converted into resources when building one’s own life,” says Mervi Sirviö, Project Adviser from the Kotoisa Project.

“Some of the experts by experience arrived in Finland a while ago and are now Finnish citizens. For others, the memories are more recent,” says Project Manager Helena Ilomäki.

Putting knowledge to good use

The integration experts by experience can contribute to planning and evaluating social, healthcare and integration services and can offer support to recently arrived immigrants in their area with their integration, train professionals as experts by experience and serve as a bridge between service professionals and their clients.

Maryam Mousapour is one of the newly qualified experts by experience and is excited to start her new role and share her experiences and knowledge.

“When I first arrived in Finland, I was supported by integration services and a support family. I have trained and qualified as a practical nurse and want to keep on studying. I want to share my experiences and hope that, in the future, I can help and support other immigrants, especially women. I want to encourage them to seek and ask for help. I also want them to know that Finland is a country of equality and that this is a place where they can continue living good lives. My experiences could also be useful in rehabilitation services and in so-cial welfare and healthcare services,” Maryam Mousapour says.

The training for experts by experience was organised by the KOTOISA Project (2018–2019) under the City of Jyväskylä Integration Services in collaboration with Kokemustalo.

Could your organisation benefit from an expert by experience?

Questions about experts by experience can be addressed to Project Adviser Mervi Sirviö, tel. +358 50 314 1915 or e-mail: mervi.sirvio(at)

The expert by experience will be paid for their services by the organisation who needs and books their services.

The Kotoisa Project

The goal of the KOTOISA Project is to support the participation and wellbeing of people with refugee backgrounds. The project involves the launch of an integration services user panel, training for integration experts by experience and the development of social rehabilitation and housing counselling services. The project is funded by the Asylum, Migration and Inte-gration Fund (AMIF) under the EU Home Affairs Funds and the City of Jyväskylä.

Additional information:

Project Adviser Mervi Sirviö, tel. +358 50 314 1915 or e-mail: mervi.sirvio(at)

24.8.2018Kirsi Kesänen

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