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Posts Tagged ‘Swedes’

Here’s something fun from a BBC blog called “News from Elsewhere.” It’s about new, playful street signs in Sweden.

“A town in northern Sweden is encouraging pedestrians to hop, skip and even play air guitar like Chuck Berry as they cross the road, with a series of new street signs.

“Haparanda Council says it’s part of a scheme launched last year to rejuvenate the town centre. …

“Therese Ostling, who runs the Town Makeover project, tells Swedish TV … ‘They have got more attention than I thought — I see people taking photos of them every day, and sometimes they follow the instructions to jump, leap or whatever else the sign suggests.’

“The idea came from local woman Nadja Lukin, who … wrote to the council, as ‘Haparanda has always dared to try something new,’ and officials responded enthusiastically with signs depicting jive dancing and Monty Python’s Ministry of Silly Walks.

“The makeover, which includes rebranding the centre as the Old Town, has brought new business into the once-rundown area and will continue for another year, but the most important impact of the signs has been to ‘make people smile,’ says Ms Ostling.” More.

Without doubt, if everyone did silly walks across the street, the world would be a better place, a place full of laughter.

Photo: Swedish TV
Swedish TV asks, “Why stroll across the street when you could ‘duck walk’ like a rock’n’roll icon?

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Swedish friends of ours have a home on the Greek island of Samos, where boatloads of refugees are landing every day. The family is collecting donations, buying bread, water bottles, diapers, and such, and delivering them to exhausted but grateful families. I will paste here the Facebook translation of the Swedish post, which may not be quite accurate, but you get the picture.

My Mom wrote yesterday:
It has blown hard in the last few days. Looking from the terrace, you can see the coast guard boat coming with inflatable boats on a trailer full of refugees. In the night 200 came, many families with children. Got together with J– and shared out approximately 100 bagettes without meat (Bedun Lachum) but with potatoes, eggs and mayonnaise, croissants, biscuits — also gave out diapers and wipes. The kids have priority always. The next delivery is 50 packages of diapers and 120 packages biscuits. Another 2000 Bottles of water were ordered.”

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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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