Salaado's story: I want to showcase the stories of different people

When I was young, it was my dream to become a teacher. Now, I strive to showcase different people through creative writing and societal influence. That goal guides my work, and feedback from people encourages me to continue.

At the moment, I am completing my master's studies in the Faculty of Humanities. As minor subjects, I have completed studies in gender research and communication. I also serve as a columnist in Vantaa Sanomat and write a short film for Yle.

I have previously worked as a communications expert at the Rauhan ja hyvinvoinnin järjestö RAHY and completed a traineeship at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, where my task was to examine the situation in the Horn of Africa. I have also volunteered in various organisations.

I have written two books. The first one is called Big dreams – Stories about Finns changing the world. The book contains 20 career stories, and its purpose is to provide schoolchildren with more extensive representations than before, i.e. descriptions of different people in different professions. The book is offered free of charge to Vantaa and Helsinki schools. I have also been working on a photo exhibition based on the book. It was organised four times last year in different parts of Helsinki and Vantaa. The fifth exhibition opened at the beginning of the year.

My second book is called Anisa tahtoo kierrättää (Anisa wants to recycle). It tells about a young girl who wants to influence her environment through her own actions. At the moment, I am working on a third book that describes the career stories of black academics.

It feels nice when your contribution is noticed

My work is guided by the objective of expanding the representation of different people in working life. When I went to comprehensive school and upper secondary school, diversity was hardly visible, as there were no people to identify with in books, for example. I want everyone to feel that they can do anything, as long as they reach for their dreams. My goal has encouraged and motivated me to write books and volunteer.

Over the years, my most inspiring job has been working as a free journalist and writer. It is wonderful that I have been able to write creatively, without restrictions. My greatest achievement in working life is that I have received many different recognitions and awards for my work. They have shown that my work is appreciated. It feels nice when your contribution is noticed. Significant achievements have also been those moments when I have heard from young people and professionals in different fields that my work has affected their work.

Communality is important to me

When I was young, I dreamed of a teacher's profession. I think that the best thing about teaching would be that I could improve the self-esteem of students. Children and young people spend most of their time at school, so they could influence their future there. I have completed courses of the teacher's pedagogical studies, so the dream has remained with me until today.

Communality is important to me, and I believe that the work community must have a positive atmosphere. Colleagues' support affects the experience of the dignity of your work and helps you step out of your comfort zone. The work community must form a safe space in which everyone can be themselves, be able to influence their working conditions and dare to be heard. No one should have to modify themselves for the sake of the work community.

Even if you are doing important work, you sometimes have to take breathers. The most relaxing thing is the time spent with family and friends. I also like swimming and other water sports in my free time. I used to swim in Helsinki because I was not allowed to wear Muslim women's swimming suits in Vantaa swimming pools. As a result of my own advocacy work, a change entered into force at the beginning of this year, allowing the use of burkini in Vantaa swimming pools. It is a significant change.

Salaado Qasim