When I go back to Poland, it's like:
"Look, this is my Swedish grandchild!" "She's from Sweden."
My grandma says that. "Look at my Swedish grandchild." "Say something in Swedish."
"What do you want me to say?"
What are your first memories
of coming to Sweden? It was seeing my dad at Arlanda. It was like "wow." My dad already
lived here, and we joined him later. I looked around
and everything was just "wow." It seemed like heaven.
Everything was perfect. -What was it that seemed perfect?
-Everything had a new smell. Everything was new
and the people looked totally different. They didn't look like people in Africa. I was just "wow." What are your first memories
of Sweden? The first time I came here, I just came
to visit my dad. He was working here. I came to visit him on Christmas break. But I moved here in 2009,
almost ten years ago. -Almost ten years?
-I still live in the same place. How was it for you
once you moved here? It felt great, because I was going
to get treatment for my illness. It gave me a sense of hope,
but it was also fun. I figured I'd get to know new people
and have new opportunities. Everything was free here, unlike
Poland where you pay for school. Everything was a burden there
and Sweden seemed more free. What's the first thing you remember
about coming to Sweden? Pick and mix candy. It was just so weird. -It's weird how no one else...
-I tried some licorice. "How can people eat this?
What is this candy?" -Do you eat it now?
-No. -I think it's gross.
-Licorice is not nice. Pick and mix candy is something
you only find in Sweden. Jacktone, how did you feel
when you got to Sweden? For me, when I got to Sweden... I felt like I would
make my dreams come true. I would make them
come true 100 percent. You would achieve your goals?
What did you want to do? I want to be a pilot. And here I have a parachute. -A parachute?
-Yeah, I can talk about this. Do you jump
or is it something you work with? -No, I jump with this.
-You're a skydiver? Yeah, I'm a skydiver.
I jump from 4,000 meters. What? -Do you jump on your own?
-Yeah, on my own. I was really scared the first time. I was at 4,000 meters
and the airplane door opened. I looked down and I knew in my brain- -that I would be dropping
four meters per second. I was like "Oh, shit, I don't want to do it,"
but then the instructor said "Jump!" -And pushed you out.
-I didn't get pushed, but... The last thing I said before leaving
the airplane was "I'm going to die." Then I just jumped out. Is skydiving linked
to your dreams of being a pilot? Yes, because when I fly an airplane- -and something goes wrong,
it's good to have a parachute. What was the first word
or sentence you learned? Ketchup. It was the first word. -Why ketchup?
-It was because... My dad made French fries, and I
asked for tomato sauce in English. My dad told me not to say "tomato
sauce," or I'd get something else... Tomato sauce is something different. My dad told me to say "ketchup,"
so I said "ketchup." And you got ketchup?
Which country are you from? -I'm from Kenya.
-When did you get here? In 2013. I was thirteen years old. Anyone else remember
your first word or sentence? I remember my first day of school. I'd been in Sweden for about two weeks. I spent the night before learning
the numbers one through ten. I learned how to count from one to ten. Have you ever embarrassed yourself
in Swedish? I still do, and people call me "Forex." You know,
it's where you exchange money. -It's slang for "import."
-There are other places, too. Whenever I misspeak, though I'm
fluent now, I still get called "Forex." I still embarrass myself. I wouldn't say I've embarrassed myself. I've said the wrong thing,
but that's not embarrassing yourself. There's nothing wrong with being
a new arrival and learning the language. All new arrivals go through the same
process. It's nothing to be ashamed of. Do you have any tips
about how to learn Swedish? I started by watching TV,
children's shows in Swedish. -They're often in English...
-But they're translated. Subtitles are great.
Reading helps you learn. You can pick up books
that are easy to read. -What do you think?
-"Bolibompa" was my best friend. I would sit in front of the TV
and just watch. And you can also
hang out with friends. When I was in my preparatory class,
my teacher told me: "The easiest way to learn Swedish
is to hang out with lots of friends." "Speaking the language
helps you learn it." You need to integrate more... And if your Swedish isn't great,
just keep plugging away. Try to engage with friends
who barely speak Swedish. You can play games or football. You bring people together
and help them learn Swedish. Where I work,
there are lots of new arrivals. At first, they won't know
the word for "cucumber"- -but six months later,
they speak excellent Swedish. So it's super important to get them
onto the job market. -Then they'll learn Swedish quickly.
-From interacting with others. When you connect with people
who speak the language, you pick it up. What was the weirdest thing
about Sweden when you got here? Was there something you just didn't get? A lot of stressed-out people. I remember when my dad
took me for a walk. -You live in Stockholm.
-That's right. I was like:
"Dad, there aren't any kids around." He told me they were all at school. When we did see some kids,
everyone knew where they were going. No one had time to stop and play in
a park. They were all going places. Even at bus stops, you could only
talk to someone for maybe a minute. Then they'd talk on the phone
and take off. It was weird to me
how stressed people were. -What's it like in your home country?
-There's like a sense of family. Everyone around you
knows who you are. "This guy is from this family,
we know his dad." There was more
of a family connection. But that's not always a good thing.
I don't think so. I live in a small town. Everyone knew who I was
before I even got there. "That girl,
of course we know who she is." -Why was that?
-My dad grew up there. He's Swedish. Everyone would say hi to me.
"I don't know who you are, but hi." It was a bit like that, really weird. -Awkward.
-I know. I thought it was weird that you didn't
greet random people you walked past. In Poland, you greet almost
every person you pass by. It's about respect.
You say "hello" and smile. But you don't do that in Sweden. -It's like you're doing something wrong.
-People are shy. It felt weird that you wouldn't greet
people like you would in Poland. What about making friends?
Doesn't that make it more difficult? It's different when you're a kid. If you arrive in Sweden as a kid,
you learn more quickly. You connect with kids at school
and during after-school activities. But I imagine it's a lot more difficult
for an adult, if you're over twenty. -How did you make your first friend?
-That's a really good question. I saw some kids playing football
outside my apartment building. -I saw some kids playing football.
-You just picked some. "Those two twins are mine." I went down and asked
if I could play football with them. Was it like that for you, Diana? Well...no, it wasn't. Ulricehamn, oh my... Oh my... I was the only black girl in Ulricehamn. I couldn't just walk up to someone
and say hi. It was really weird. I made friends when my teacher
literally forced them to hang out with me. What did the teacher say? "Hi. This is Diana. She's new and you'll
hang out with her the next two weeks." I remember that
from my first day at school. My teacher introduced me
to two other Polish kids in my class. "This is your new friend.
Take care of her." -"Show her everything."
-"Show her the ropes." -"And don't leave her."
-How did that feel? It was embarrassing. "You don't want
to hang out with me, but you have to." -You feel stupid.
-"You don't like me, but you have to." -Did you make friends that way?
-We're not friends these days. What about the rest of you?
Jacktone, how did you make friends? I met my first friend at home.
I was on the balcony. -Just like her, on the balcony.
-Yeah. My first friend
was riding a bike down below... -The exact same story.
-Yeah. I knew my dad had a bike
down in the basement. I asked my dad to let me get
the bike from the basement. "I want to ride my bike
with that guy down there." -You pick a target.
-He had no idea. No, he was just riding his bike. I got my
bike from the basement and went out. I said: "Hi, how are you?" I tried to speak Swedish,
but my Swedish wasn't very good. I could basically just say "hi"... He could speak English, so we spoke
English and got to know each other. We rode our bikes
and went to Flottsbro together. We rode our bikes there and... -You became friends.
-Yes. I know his mom and dad now... -So you're still friends?
-That's nice. People in Ulricehamn
don't just walk up and say hi. Is it easy or hard
to make friends in Sweden? It's not that hard. If you can't speak
Swedish or English, then it's hard. But it wasn't hard for me
since I spoke English. -You already knew the language.
-I could use English. You've touched on it, but what
was it like to start school in Sweden? I didn't even speak English
when I came to Sweden. In Poland, there's no requirement
to learn English at that age. When I got here, I only spoke Polish. I was assigned to a class...
I started third grade here. I was put in a class with other new
arrivals who didn't speak Swedish. We had some separate classes
for those who didn't speak Swedish. I hated that system.
It was the same for me. I was put with new arrivals and only
had Swedish with my normal class. I felt like an outsider in class. You only had one subject
with your regular class? Yes, and the rest of the subjects
with new arrivals. Swedish as a second language. It's difficult to learn Swedish when
you don't communicate with the others. If you could wish for a way
to be introduced to school in Sweden- -to learn the language and make friends,
what would it be? Through sports. Through sports?
What if you don't like sports? I wouldn't say sports.
The most important thing is language. When I played football,
I didn't know Swedish. It was difficult for me. I didn't hang out
with any of the guys on my team. Learn the language.
That's what's most important. Let's move on to unwritten rules. Have you had trouble grasping
any unwritten rules in Sweden? I remember back in Kenya... You have buses there
and people hang on to the outside. Yeah, it's the same in Somalia. But here you have the subway
and you need to have a ticket. You swipe it and wait for the subway.
Same on the bus, you just swipe it. And you can't sit
next to anyone on buses. People sit by themselves on the bus.
I just think it's weird. It's like a Swedish meme. At a bus stop, you have to
keep your distance from people. Maximum space.
Have you noticed anything, Melvin? When going to the bathroom, people
will tell everyone "I'm taking a dump." I wasn't used to that, and it felt weird... I feel awkward
telling people something like that. I can't just say "I need to pee." -People are open about it.
-Exactly. -Do people in Syria just walk off?
-You don't need to say anything. You might say "nature calls." -Simple, smooth.
-It's more of a private thing. People will just say:
"I need to take a dump." Immigration is often talked about as
a problem in the media and in debates. How do you feel about that? There are problem immigrants
and also problem Swedes. It's just that some people are problems. Exactly, you shouldn't single out
a certain group. That's discrimination. When it comes to prejudice or racism... Most of us have encountered this
when we were young- -but you only notice it as an adult. It's only now that you realize
that you've been subjected to abuse. You used to think
there was something wrong with you. You didn't even think about it back then. What have you noticed? I joined a normal class
after my preparatory class. I joined the class in third grade. I had a group of classmates- -and most were light-skinned Swedes. A lot of them
would tease me during recess. "Look at you. Baboon.
Your nose, your nostrils." It was hard for me. I couldn't take it,
and it got rougher and rougher. I finally gave up in fourth grade.
I couldn't handle it. They kept abusing me,
and I was struggling with school. I finally gave up
and told my mentor and my parents- -that I wanted to take a step back. My parents didn't know the reason. -You hadn't told them anything?
-No, I didn't want it to be a big deal. I took a step back
and finally started to feel... I started fitting in and made friends.
It was only then... -So you repeated a class?
-Exactly. Back then, I didn't think of it
as racist or mean. But as I grew up and became
more mature, I realized it was wrong. Exactly. Melvin and Jacktone, have you
encountered prejudice or racism? Yeah, I think it's something
a lot of people can relate to. People assume you don't speak Swedish
because of how you look. I was at the register at Åhléns once. The guy behind the register started
speaking English. It was just crazy. -Was this a long time ago?
-Like a year ago. He started speaking English,
and what are you supposed to do? -Did you answer him in English?
-No, I got really annoyed. "Why do you assume
I don't speak Swedish?" It really annoyed me. I think it's racist. Have the rest of you
had people speak English to you? Not English, but French for some
weird reason. I don't know why... It was really weird.
I was with a friend and this man... We were walking down the street
and he addressed us in French. "We don't understand you."
"Oh, so you know the language." "What the hell do you think?" -When are you considered Swedish?
-Maybe when you're a citizen. I'm not a Swedish citizen.
I'm still a Polish citizen- -but I feel more Swedish than Polish.
This is my home. When I go back to Poland, it's like:
"Look, this is my Swedish grandchild!" "She's from Sweden."
My grandma says that. "Look at my Swedish grandchild." "Say something in Swedish."
"What do you want me to say?" You just want out of the situation. It's like I don't have a country.
I'm Polish here and Swedish in Poland. I barely know what I am.
I'm not Swedish according to some- -and I'm not Polish in Poland,
so what am I? -Do you agree?
-Yeah. Here's what I think... You're Swedish
when you identify as Swedish. Other people can
have their own opinions about it- -but it's up to you
if you're Swedish or not. -Do you all feel Swedish?
-Yes, I feel Swedish. I can speak Swedish
and I have Swedish friends. -So I feel like I'm Swedish.
-What about you, Diana? I think it varies. When I'm in Sweden, I feel Swedish- -but when I go to Africa,
I'm not Swedish. Don't ask me about Sweden.
It's like two separate things. You also have this inherent conflict. Some Swedes
will deny that you're Swedish. They call people immigrants,
but what they don't understand- -is that "immigrant" isn't
a state or quality that you possess. It's an event that you've experienced. I can identify as whatever I want- -but my immigrant friends
will often say "You're not Swedish." Have a lot of people told you
that you're not Swedish? -Oh yes.
-Even Swedes? I draw the line right away.
Those people aren't my friends. -I won't allow people to define me.
-I understand. If someone tells me I'm not Swedish,
I'll say: "You're not Swedish, either." -Really?
-Yeah. Who has the right
to give you the title "Swedish"? Is it the King? Who gets to decide? What do you think
we as ordinary people- -can do
to make people feel welcome here? I would say it's good
to make them feel welcome. Befriend them, talk to them... Lose the prejudices. Lose what
you've been told about people from... Polish people are often seen
as construction workers and cleaners- -who drink a lot.
Lose that way of thinking. Lose all prejudices
and treat people as individuals. -Treat them as your siblings.
-Exactly. For me, it's about welcoming them
with open arms and being kind. When people are new to this country- -you should get to know them
and make them feel like part of a family. They shouldn't feel left out,
but as part of the people. Awesome. Thanks a lot, guys.
We're done here. What do you think? How can we make
new arrivals feel more welcome here? Leave a comment below
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