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Working towards an inclusive Sweden one Midsummer at a time

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Working towards an inclusive Sweden one Midsummer at a time
Guests gathered around the maypole before the traditional dances began. Photo: Madeline Tersigni
17:40 CEST+02:00
How can Swedish traditions be used to help newcomers to the country meet Swedes and integrate into the culture? The Local spoke to the founders of one organization that aims to do just that, when contributor Madeline Tersigni attended their Midsummer celebration.

"We have to communicate better about integration," Philip Robertsson, a co-founder of integration-focused NGO Nema Problema, tells The Local. "Usually what you see in the media is negative. People saying 'this is impossible' but it doesn’t have to be like that."

Robertsson, and his co-founders Robert Moldén and Vilhelm Skoglund, believe that there are great opportunities that come with migration. 

At this organization's annual Midsummer event, over 1,000 people came to celebrate in Stockholm park Rålambshovsparken. According to Robertsson this year's Midsommar was the biggest event they've held so far.

The event had activities ranging from quizzes to a bouncy castle. Children danced around the maypole to foreign music as well as traditional Swedish songs, while adults could be seen eagerly introducing themselves to strangers, exchanging numbers and sharing a fika, a reflection of Nema Problema's goals of showing how fun and easy merging cultures can be. 

Eleonora D'Ubaldo Gauffin enjoys the celebration with her twin daughters. Photo: Madeline Tersigni 

The organization was started in 2016, when the founders posted on Facebook inviting any young person or child that was alone for Christmas to come and celebrate with them. Over 200 children and young people attended, and since that event, the non-profit has organized dozens of other celebrations to help native and non-native Swedes get together, bonding over typically Swedish festivities.

In addition, the organization's mentor programmes connect foreigners with 'established Swedes' to help them find jobs. The events are run by volunteers, and one of them, Matilda Lund, told The Local she wrote her thesis on the roles of immigration in Sweden, a cause that is "very important" to her.

Another volunteer Hafez Ali spoke about the importance of integration, especially in regards to introducing non-natives to Swedish traditions. 

"It is very important to me, I live in Sweden and so I should get to be a part of events like Midsommar, so should everyone," he said. 

"From what I've heard, people are really happy," Robertsson said. "We started out dancing to traditional Swedish music, the crazy stuff like 'Jumping Frog' but then we changed it to international music like Arabic, African, and Latin American and everyone seems to really appreciate it." 

"Sweden, it’s an ageing population. People are getting older and older and aren't having that many children so I think there’s a great potential within the people that come here and we want to highlight that potential and show these opportunities," he explained. 

"We want to show that integration can be really fun and simple."

Volunteers setting up the maypole. Photo: Madeline Tersigni 

 

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