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Crisp thoughts in minus thirteen

Time for thinking, not talking

The snow crunched that dry cold crunch under my boot soles as the morning sun hit the east facing side of the palace. It was one of those winter mornings that no sane mind would trade in for a day on the beach in Thailand. Lucy tip-toed on the freezing ground at first but then got into her stride as she too was taken by the pure gloriousness of this morning in our mutual playground, Drottningholm Park.

Out on dog island, an enclosure where dogs can socialize, doggie masters and mistresses urged their pets to get on with their morning ablutions so that they could return to the warmth of their blazing fireplaces. Lucy and I prefer not to go there (alright, I prefer not to go there) as it means that I have to talk and therefore cannot use these invaluable early hours to toss around thoughts and consider the connections. I don’t know whether it is just the effect of a decade lived on an isolated island of my own (read more about this in the page about this blog), but I often think that  people talk too much and reflect too little. Meetings, meetings, blaa, blaa, but where is the possibility to work out what it all means and to process it?

This morning my thoughts were definitely with the group of children I’d recently been working with at school. This and other projects I’ve been working on during the past year through my NGO (check www.berattelser.se  which will shortly be available in English language) have drawn my attention to how we handle integration; how we handle kids who come from war-torn countries and whose learning capacity as well as capacity for concentration has been affected by events that most of us cannot even begin to imagine; how we talk to their parents who want to participate in their children’s schooling but don’t know how to begin to do that in a society that seems to have tight systems for everything; how we get all children in Sweden to be curious about cultures that they are not familiar with rather than scared of them.

As the day went on I found myself watching  what is possibly Sweden’s most remarkable St. Lucia concert at the Ericsson Globe. 1000 candles are literally lit by countless youngsters from some of Sweden’s most prestigious music schools who sing Swedish songs of the season. I’ve been to this concert before and remember it as an experience that made me believe in this world again. While I thought it was superb again this year, something new struck me. Among the large number of children performing, almost all of the faces were white. This is not a criticism, simply an observation that hit hard after months of working in schools and increasing my awareness of the real Swedish student body. Where were they: the different colors that increasingly represent the place that Sweden is today? I couldn’t find them although I searched the performing crowd meticulously.

At day’s end I watched a bit of the endless media analysis of the terrible event in Stockholm on Saturday evening. You can read more about it elsewhere on this site. A senior journalist interviewed a panel of experts, asking them what could be done in the future to prevent such acts happening again. Most could only come with answers such as “keep a cool head”, “don’t over-react”, etc. The imam on the panel was in fact the only person who came up with anything close to what is needed: organized discussion among young people – an opportunity to vent frustrations and views that are based on anger and fear.

For myself, I had so many answers based on my experiences in schools, that I found myself shouting at the television. So, I guess I have some thoughts to sort out tomorrow morning in the park in the glistening winter sun. You got the uncut version (feel free to take whatever you like, WikiLeaks).


Learn more about my work at schools at www.berattelser.se and stay tuned for the English language version. You can also learn more about my writing projects at www.julielindahl.com.

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8 responses to “Crisp thoughts in minus thirteen”

  1. Monica says:

    Hej Julie, nice story and it does make you stop and think about the intergration that is happening in Sweden. I love walking in the snow the next day and hear that crunch, crunch…breathing in that crisp, cool air that makes you feel alive and childlike at the same time. Thank you for your story have a good day and I want to wish your family a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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  2. Hi Monica,
    Seasons Greetings to you too! In the next couple of weeks you’ll be hearing from me in the mountains near Idre.

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  3. Erik NorCal says:

    There’s snow in Sweden? What happened to global warming? Still raking leaves from a long warm autumn to the the sound of squishing mud…the memories. 😉 Hope there is enough snow in Idre!

    God Jul och Gott Nytt År till alla

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  4. Erik,

    There is a thick cover of white that looks like it is hear to stay until the spring, although you never really know. The mountains are powder in so far as I have heard. Yet I do envy you still raking. It is so addictive. One does wonder where global warming went but overall it makes a lot of sense that we strive to become more conscious consumers. Have a wonderful Christmas.

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  5. Eager Beaver says:

    Nice story! Again. I LOVE the crunch crunch from the snow! And I really like your reflections on immigration. We have to learn to discuss it more, eh, bluntly. It is a two way street. There is no excuse for native Swedes to not open up our society offering all equal opportunities to develp, grow and prosper in a free, safe, comfortable and enjoyable environment. Equally, there is no excuse for immigrants to not accept AND respect our freedoms, openness, culture and customs and to learn our language – a critical tool for making integration possible. I see problems on both sides. But the fact that it has proven almost impossible to discuss both these aspects in a respectful, open and honest way free of accusations, narrow mindedness and intolerance is the the real problem to solve. We have to learn to discuss these aspects to get over this hump!

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  6. Julie says:

    Exactly. Thanks for that Eager Beaver.

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  7. Rebekah says:

    The crunch of the snow reminds me of the winter we spent in Sweden, especially out time in Mora, fairly close to where you are going. The best powder I’ve ever been on, particularly when compared to the slush which passes for snow here in Australia.
    I’ve so enjoyed your blog since discovering it mid-year so thank you.

    God Jul och gott nytt år.

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  8. Thanks Rebekah! Hope you’ll stay with us here at Julie’s Nordic Island. Happy New Year.

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