Romanian Together is an Edustudio Helsinki project launched in 2019 and funded by the Department for Romanians Worldwide, whose goal is to preserve the mother tongue in Romanian communities across the world.
In the age of migration and continuous change, younger generations can easily feel distressed, displaced, not belonging or marginalized. Our goal, through this project, is to support Romanian and mixed families in offering their children a strong positive cultural identity by creating communities that support social cohesion, prevent marginalization and enhance their sense of belonging.
Romanian Together is an online platform offering free educational resources for communities to organize playgroups and language activities and events, where children can learn the Romanian language in a playful, familiar environment.
Edustudio's mission is to contribute to the future of education, therefore we use the model of the Finnish pedagogy and apply it to a rich and diverse cultural background. In the first phase of the project, we disseminated the first 10 themed playgroups for preschool children to more than 15 countries. The concept of the playgroups was developed based on the workshops organized in Helsinki by our team of professionals in the field of education and design, for the past 10 years. We also provide tutorials, articles, and all the educational materials needed to organize the playgroups.
By 2021 we have disseminated our model to over 40 countries, and offered free quality educational resources for early-childhood and school-aged children to Romanians worldwide, to build communities focused on teaching Romanian to children. We organize online conferences, workshops and discussion panels to support collaboration between the different parties involved in mother tongue support: from families, communities to official institutions.
What does the local community say?
We gathered testimonials from parents taking part in the mother tongue playgroups in Helsinki. These are parents from mixed families that speak either one or several languages, originally from Romania or Finland, that have children aged 1 to 10 years old. The families have been taking part in our local playgroups every two weeks. We finance our playgroups with support from families contributing as members of our association.
We need to create space and time to meet so our children can acknowledge the importance of the mother tongue and cultural identity. We can do a lot to support the Romanian language from a very young age in the diaspora. Through this project, we want the resources and best practices we used at our playgroups to reach more communities and children.
Bianca Biro, Romanian parent and
co-founder Helsinki playgroups
For me, the community is essential because it gives me a sense of belonging. Transmitting the Romanian language to my children is vital and a part of our life because this is how I can transmit my culture. I am Romanian, and they will always be half-Romanian, and they should know this because I believe this can help them once they become teenagers.
Mihaela Nyyssönen, Romanian parent,
co-founder Helsinki playgroups
In school my kids speak Finnish, at home, I speak English with my wife and even though she speaks Romanian to them, it is not enough. At these playgroups, the kids can speak, listen and communicate in Romanian. I find it essential for kids to speak their mother tongue among them. Even more, this is an environment where they can make friends and know other kids that are in the same situation and that also speak Romanian in Finland.
Alex Vorobjeff, Finnish parent, Helsinki playgroups
As a child of immigrant parents, you will always be different from the locals and you cannot deny it. Accept this reality and turn it into an advantage. The advantage of knowing one more language and culture. The playgroups are a great place to make new friends and meet the local community. It is also an excuse for parents to practice their language with the kids and play together.
Ionuț Dascălu, Romanian parent, Helsinki playgroups
I think it is important to speak our mother tongue when we communicate with children on a personal level. Our mother tongue is the one we use to express our deepest feelings, with no fear. In mixed families, the mother tongue becomes like a secret language and creates a special bond with the child.