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Posts Tagged ‘ivory coast’

Sweden has taken in a lot of refugees from troubled countries, but like the U.S., it sometimes struggles to find the best approach for absorbing the influx.

At the NY Times, Suzanne Daley writes about one Swede who may have found an important way to speed integration, a way that enriches the experience of Swedes and newcomers alike.

“Last year, when Ebba Akerman, 31, was teaching Swedish to immigrants in the suburbs of this city, she ran into one of her students on the train and asked him whether he enjoyed living in her country.

“She found the answer deeply disturbing. The man shrugged, saying his life here was not much different from the one he had left behind in Afghanistan. It became clear to her that most of her students, living in neighborhoods packed with immigrants, had virtually no contact with native Swedes.

“In the months that followed, Ms. Akerman decided to try to change that, calling herself the minister of dinners in charge of the Department of Invitations and using Facebook and Instagram to try to bring individual Swedes and immigrants together for a meal, something like a dating service.

“ ‘We let people into our country, but not into our society,’ Ms. Akerman said on a recent Friday night. … ‘I finally decided that I had to do something. I could be the connector.’ …

“On a recent evening, Ms. Akerman was feeding about a dozen people, including a middle-aged couple from Bangladesh who had brought a chicken dish, a recent arrival from Cameroon with her two children, a Swedish marketing expert, the mother of one of Ms. Akerman’s friends and a young Swedish doctor in training, all of whom had been early participants in her project. All told stories of good times and miscues.

“The marketing expert, Henrik Evrell, said he had served spaghetti Bolognese, the most Swedish dish he knew, to his guest from Ivory Coast. At first they had trouble communicating because his guest’s Swedish was so poor. But soon they discovered that they both spoke French and loved the same Ivory Coast musicians. After eating, they spent the rest of the evening in front of a computer, taking turns pulling up music on Spotify that each thought the other would like.” More here.

Photo: Casper Hedberg for The New York Times
Ebba Akerman set a table on her backyard for a meal that brought Swedes and immigrants together. 

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