Students from 18 different countries gathered in the Stockholm City Conference Centre on Drottninggatan to learn about Swedish culture as well as their roles as Future Global Leaders.
Johanna Lundin, Project Manager at the Swedish Institute, and Margareta Engholm, Communications Officer, welcomed students to the event at 9:00am on Saturday, September 18th.
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Then Kurt Bratteby, Head of the SI Department for International Relations, opened with a speech about why the Swedish Institute gives scholarships and what they mean.
“This event is one of the main highlights of the year for us, and it’s a great pleasure to meet you personally and say hello,” he said.
Bratteby explained that the Swedish Institute was founded in 1945, and that scholarships have been an important part of their work from the very beginning.
“It’s important for us to use education to foster positive attitudes and dedication,” he said. “Education can change the world.”
“We see our scholarships as a way to empower people to be change-makers. If you feel empowered, then you have the power to change the world.”
The vision of SI is a world where industries, institutions, and states cooperate to build a peaceful and sustainable future, Bratteby noted.
“The upcoming 15 years will be of utmost important for the future of the planet. We are the first generation which can eradicate poverty – and the last generation able to save the ecosystem.”
He encouraged students to believe in themselves and their power to change the world, and hoped they would also bring their knowledge to Sweden in a mutually symbiotic relationship.
“We also see these scholarships as a way of bringing the world to Sweden. We need more international mobility, not less. We learn from your presence here, from your experiences.”
Students were then treated to a presentation by Anna Rosling Rönnlund, co-founder of Gapminder and Dollar Street Project, about how data and images can be used to understand income differences and ways of live all across the world.
The seminar was followed by a traditional Swedish fika break, with coffee and sandwiches, where students had the chance to mingle with each other and SI employees.
The next presentation was a humorous look at Swedish culture by Australian John Alexander. With flair, plenty of audience participation, and dozens of jokes, Alexander introduced SI students to “Swedish values” and discussed how to navigate Sweden successfully.
At 12:15 everyone gathered for a delicious vegetarian lunch.
After lunch, students attended workshops in two parallel sessions. One session was an introduction to the Swedish language, and the other was practical information about the scholarship period.
Johanna Lundin, Project Manager at the Swedish Institute, and Margareta Engholm, concluded the day with a summary and some words of advice:
“You are future global leaders. It’s about passionate, compassion, opening your heart.”
“Broaden your perspectives – that is your task.”
“Allow yourselves to be confused at times. Developing something new means being lost for a while.”
“Make sure that the vision for your life is grounded in your own personal values.”
At the end of the day, happy but tired students mingled in the beautiful main hall of the Norra Latin building for snacks and drinks, getting a group photo taken and then heading to dinner.