– Of course it was a culture shock to move from New York to Joensuu, but a positive one. Life is much better and calmer in Joensuu, says Tsultrim Tamang with a smile. The brilliant young man was brought to Finland and Joensuu by a Finnish wife and daughter.

Tsultrim Tamang was born in Tibet 27 years ago. In Tibet, which is bordered by the mountain ranges of Himalaya and Karakorum and the Gobi Desert, the Tamang family’s life was complicated. The country was in a difficult political situation because China did not recognise the independence of Tibet. Tibetans who did not support the communist party of China were treated as separatists. The Tamang family’s beliefs and human rights were at risk.

– When I was four years old, my family first fled to India. We were refugees there and could not get legal citizenship and therefore were not allowed to have any property. Life would have been very restricted there.

The family toughed it out in India for five years, then moved on to Nepal where they settled down of necessity. The children of the family left to look for a better life in the United States and found a base in New York. There Tamang studied biology and chemistry in the State University of New York at Geneseo.

The receptive Joensuu

Tsultrim Tamang digs up the driving license of New York from his wallet. He is not particularly interested in driving and praises the amazing accessibility and ease of moving in Joensuu. To this interview, Tamang cycled through a vigorous May snowfall. The cold spell in the spring did not catch him unawares; last night’s weather forecast had him prepared for the blizzard.

– New York has so many people, there is so much happening all the time. It felt to me like everyone was only focused on themselves, and the atmosphere was tense and hectic. In Joensuu I have only met friendly people. This is a safe and peaceful city.

Tamang was brought to Joensuu by love. While living in New York, he met a young woman from Joensuu online. The couple shared an interest in the Japanese culture. Their daughter Mimosa was born five years ago. It was time for the family to consider moving together and starting a new life.

– We saw Finland as a better option than the US. Moving to the US would have been significantly harder and more expensive. Getting a visa would have taken much longer because of the long-distance relationship, so I decided to apply for a residence permit in Finland instead. We also weighed up the situation from our daughter’s point of view – it was her safety and education that settled the case in the end.

The young girl’s father puts particular emphasis on the significance of education. In the States, public schools are free but the level of teaching is poor. The level is higher in private schools, but the tuition costs are also high.

Working and studying

After coming to Finland, Tamang immediately found his way to an integration training for immigrants that included language courses and cultural training. Tamang’s objective is to get Finnish citizenship, the opportunity for which will open up within two years.

Now the energetic man is studying International Business in the Karelia University of Applied Sciences and works as a teaching assistant in the Epic Challenge programme.

The active networker is also part of the board of the Joensuu Entrepreneurship Society that promotes entrepreneurship. The way in which Tamang highlights the importance of reciprocity when adjusting to a new culture is a good indication of his mindset.

– I cannot just wait to get help and advice from other people. I also need to have something to give the local people here.

Tamang has gained a lot of well-deserved positive feedback for his initiative. Perhaps the university could offer him some future opportunities as well, such as teaching work.

– For now I am keeping all the doors open for the future. Decisions will be made together with the whole family.

Text: Sirkka-Liisa Aaltonen/Viestintä-Ässä, Photo: Jarno Artika