• Sweden's news in English

Stockholm Syndrome: Teacher training

The Local · 21 Oct 2005, 09:50

Published: 21 Oct 2005 09:50 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

It was a full house for a change. I was sitting with Bobby and Manuela. Bobby is from Cuba, has tattooed arms the size of my thighs and is very cagey indeed about why he moved to Sweden. And, for that matter, about why he is called Bobby.

Manuela, on the other hand, is not cagey about anything. She moved to Sweden from Chile ten years ago and, having finally packed off her kids to school, decided it was about time she got some qualifications.

Manuela will happily tell anyone with ears about her plans. She will pass her exam at SFI (Svenska för idioter, as she puts it), push on to Komvux where she will study Swedish, English, Maths and various other subjects, and then she will go to teaching college.

She will tell you that her family back in Viña del Mar are all teachers, and that a cousin is already a lecturer in France so nobody back home will be impressed about one of the family teaching abroad.

Manuela will no doubt make a good teacher and she has latched onto Stefan as her 'career champion'. Stefan will help her get through her exam, he can advise her about teaching in Sweden and help her get into Komvux.

Normally her mentor bounces into the room and within seconds the class is underway. But this time there was a certain drift about Stefan, a certain lack of enthusiasm.

Bobby, Manuela and I were discussing Santiago, the Chilean capital. Manuela declared that Chile and Cuba were like brother and sister because they both have a city called Santiago on exactly the same longitude. From that she drew the conclusion that she and Bobby were like long-lost siblings and attempted to hug him.

But Bobby pulled away and said she was wrong; Santiago in Chile is on the same longitude as Santiago in the Dominican Republic. Santiago in Cuba is further west. Manuela was most offended.

This was turning into one of the more unexpected of the things I'd learned at my Swedish class when Stefan said that he had an announcement to make.

There was an immediate sense of apprehension in the room.

He would not be teaching us any more, he said. He had been promoted into a more administrative role, which meant that after five years he would finally get his evenings back. He was unable to suppress a smile.

For a moment, nobody spoke. Then Manuela spoke.

"Va?" she said. It was the least I'd ever heard her say in one go but her face conveyed the disappointment she felt.

Only Garry, a PhD student from Minneapolis, had the presence of mind to say the right thing, albeit in the wrong language.

"That's cool, man, congratulations."

A few others murmured a 'grattis' here and a 'vad bra' there. But it was without feeling.

That's understandable, and it's not just because Stefan is a great teacher. For many of my classmates, he is their main connection to Sweden. He has introduced them to Swedish customs, Swedish food, Swedish culture - and some have become dependent upon him.

There are people in the class, people in their thirties and forties and fifties, who live in predominantly immigrant suburbs and have no daily contact with 'real Swedes'. No husbands or wives to explain how things work here, no work buddies to have lunch with, no flirting in bars or clubs.

Story continues below…

Of course, there are the Swedes at the Migration Board and the Job Office, but those people they see as obstacles, part of the problem.

Stefan was their only solution, he was the Swede they knew best, the one fine thread linking them to their new homeland - and their future.

In the break, someone casually suggested making a protest.

"Protest about what?" said Manuela. "He's your teacher, not your mother - we teachers have to think about ourselves too, you know."

Discuss this topic!

Stockholm Syndrome is a series of articles from The Local focusing on life in the Swedish capital through a foreigner's eyes.

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Sweden can extend border controls, EU says
A police officer carrying out a check at Sweden's border with Denmark. Photo: Emil Langvad/TT

EU countries including Sweden should be granted permission to extend temporary border controls by a period of a further three months, the European Commission has decided.

Nobel Prizes
'I'd say he's arrogant but I'd be lying': Swedes on Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan performing in France. Photo: David Vincent/AP

Almost two weeks have passed since Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature and he has yet to acknowledge the win. The Local asked Swedes what they think of the singer's silence.

Sweden cuts 2016 refugee forecast by thousands
A Swedish migration authority office in Stockholm. Photo: Maja Suslin/TT

The country has also slashed its prediction for 2017.

Swedish researchers plan new trucks for women drivers
File photo of trucks in Sweden. Photo: Thomas Johansson/TT

Could vehicles adapted for women attract more female truckers to the profession?

These stats show Swedish driving isn't so gender equal
File photo of a Swedish woman driving a car. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

A new survey shows that few Swedish women get behind the wheel when driving with their male partner.

Revealed: Game of Thrones could be coming to Sweden
Game of Thrones cast members at the Emmy Awards in September. Photo: Jordan Strauss/AP

The producers of the hit show have asked for three rounds of location pictures of Swedish island Gotland.

Prime Minister to meet Swedish troops in Iraq
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and his Kurdish counterpart Nechervan Barzani. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Sweden's Prime Minister Löfven is set to meet Swedish troops in Iraq on Tuesday.

Swedish politicians wage war on winter time
Soon it will look like this on your way home from work in Sweden. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

Should Sweden stick with summer time all year round?

'Don't turn the Pope into a global teddy bear'
Sweden's Queen Silvia and Princess Leonore visiting Pope Francis in the Vatican last year. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

It's time to hold the Pope to account and make sure he turns his words about reform into action, argues a minister of the Swedish Church ahead of Pope Francis' visit to Sweden.

Löfven: 'Sweden will double its number of troops in Iraq'
Stefan Löfven and Haider al-Abadi during the visit on Monday. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has promised to double his country's number of troops in Iraq following a meeting with Iraqi counterpart Haider al-Abadi on Monday.

Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Property of the week: Kungsholmen, Stockholm
Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
The Local Voices
'I simply don’t believe in nationality'
Why we're convinced Game of Thrones is based on Sweden
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
People-watching: October 21st-23rd
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
People-watching: October 20th
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Property of the week: Linnéstaden, Gothenburg
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Sponsored Article
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Sponsored Article
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
People-watching: October 12th
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
Property of the week: Triangeln, Malmö
Sweden unveils Europe's first elk hut
People-watching: October 7th-9th
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
jobs available