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Internship crucial for learning language and culture

Internship crucial for learning language and culture

| Text and photo: Bjørn Lønnum Andreassen

Rafet Adem Daban (24) arrived in Norway a couple of years ago after fleeing Turkey. He believes an introduction programme has been of great help and is very happy to have had the chance to get an internship in a newspaper.

Daban works for the Ytringen newspaper in the Norwegian city of Kolvereid. The two days he spends there each week have become crucial to him – as a photographer and colleague, and as a learner of the language and culture.  

“My family and I lived in an integration centre for one and a half years. After waiting there for our residency permit, we were sent to Rørvik. As I see it, each municipality has different opportunities and offers. The municipality’s main focus is to teach Norwegian and help you find a job. The refugee service also always tries to help us refugees with things that are unfamiliar to us,” he says. His experience of how the municipality welcomed him has been good. 

“In my experience, they try to be helpful and efficient. This is important to all refugees,” says Daban.

He thinks Norwegians are more open and positive to refugees and immigrants than people in other European countries.

“There are of course people in all countries who don’t like immigrants, but I think there are fewer of them in Norway. This is very important for not feeling rejected,” he says. 

Challenging dialects

“The hardest thing in Norway is that nearly everyone speaks a dialect. For Norwegians, this means diversity, but it is a big problem for refugees. Dialects make communication far more difficult,” he says.

“Integration is harder when we learn bokmål [Norwegian as spoken in Oslo] in adult education but hear dialect everywhere else. Many will start a conversation speaking bokmål, but soon drift back into their dialect. This makes it hard to learn Norwegian because it is important to understand the entire sentence.”

Rafet Daban og Lillian Lyngstad

Editor Lillian Lyngstad and her colleagues in the Ytringen newspaper praise 24-year-old Rafet Adem Daban.  

Rafat Daban and newspaper editor Lillian Lyngstad.

Internship at a newspaper

Daban is very happy with his internship at the Ytringen newspaper in Kolvereid, Norway’s smallest city. He works two days a week and takes pictures that are used in the print and online version of the paper. He shoots all kinds of settings where the paper sends its journalists.

“It is very useful and I learn about the Norwegian workplace. Everyone at the Ytringen newspaper is helpful. I do my best to solve all the tasks. I also love taking pictures, so I am happy,” he says proudly.

Pride and status are important things for many across different cultures. Finding a good place and getting experience counts for a lot.

“My family are content because I am content. Some of them want to know what it is that I do at the paper. My father was a journalist in Turkey. So my family is used to this kind of job, but my friends wonder what I am doing at the paper,” he says. The newspaper is his first experience of working in Norway.

“I get to know different people and I am building a network. That’s why this internship is important to me.”

A plus for the newspaper

Synnøve Hanssen, Ytringen’s managing director, says they had been looking for someone interested in photography and contacted the employment training provider Ytre Namdal Vekst (YNV).

“A journalist in the field can concentrate better on writing if a photographer is also there. Our newspaper is a so-called inclusive employer, and Rafet is here to practice his language. He will start studying in Norway after a while and wants to learn more Norwegian. He is good at taking pictures, and we are very happy with the help that he gives us,” says Hanssen.

Language leads to employment 

YNV runs employment targeted measures on behalf of Norway’s Labour and Welfare Administration NAV, the municipality and other public authorities. Tor Einar Neerland, deputy manager at YNV, says some people find the demands they face in the labour market are challenging. Language training helps when looking for a job.

“People who have finished the integration programme come to us. We use the same methods to help people from non-western countries into employment as we do for native Norwegians. We map their skills and opportunities, and try to find them a relevant job.”

Language is key

The main path into working life is to speak Norwegian well, feels Turkish Rafet Adem Daban (above). Having a journalist father in Turkey perhaps also helps motivation.


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