"Man är svensk när man känner sig svensk!"

by: Tänk till

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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 and subscribe to our channel- -so you don't miss our future videos. Take care.

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"Det folk inte förstår är att invandra är inte ett tillstånd eller egenskap man själv äger. Det är en egenskap man själv varit med om."

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