A voice for newcomers in Sweden

'Sweden is hope and beauty'

Published: 31.Mar.2016 17:05 hrs

Two teenage girls trying to adjust to life in Sweden have found friendship through a video camera. Iulia and Yeganeh tell The Local Voices what it's like to be new in Sweden, and why they made a film about it.

Not all new arrivals in Sweden are fleeing war. Just like the thousands of Swedes who emigrated to the US in the 1800s, many immigrants are simply seeking a better life.

”My life in Romania was ok, not a bad life,” says 18-year-old Iulia. ”But Sweden for me is hope - and I think for anyone, it`s a new start.”

”I came for education,” Yeganeh, 16, explains. ”I had a good life in Iran, everything was fine. But here...Sweden in one word is beauty. I have never seen anything like the blue of the Swedish sky…I just can't stop looking at it!”

Both girls moved to Sweden with their families last summer. So far, they love it – and they find Swedes to be very friendly people.

”The best thing about Sweden, compared to Romania, is that here they want to include the new people that come to this country,” Iulia says. ”They want us to be part of this country, feel included and learn the language.”

”People are so friendly,” Yeganeh agrees. ”It's so easy to hang out with people and find new friends, especially in school.”

It was school that put the two girls together. They met on the first day and felt an immediate connection.

“We met in language class,” Yeganeh recalls.

The class consisted of dozens of students from around the globe, and while they found it scary at first, the girls quickly settled in. Ever since that day they've been thick as thieves.

“Yeganeh is so honest and supportive. She gives me a kind of support I never got from my friends in Romania,” Iulia says.

And the relationship extends outside of school. The duo have recently become filmographers.

“We had a movie making lesson in class, and decided to take it outside of class,” Yeganeh says.

The girls met Rokibath Alssane, director of Move It, a project which aims to get newly arrived youth involved in extracurricular activities that is run by IM-Individuell Människöhjälp, a Swedish NGO working to combat poverty and exclusion.

”We match newly arrived youngsters, help them, guide them to ‘do it’ and find different after school activities that they can continue with in the long term,” Rokibath says. ”Our focus is on integration through interaction and finding something you're interested in.”

“Rokibath came to our class and asked if we wanted to do something outside of school, and I said, 'Yeah. Let's make a movie,'” says Iulia.

Perhaps it's a feat easier said than done. But the two ambitious teens wanted to do something to make a difference. Surrounded by peers who had been through traumatic journeys to safety in Sweden, they decided to make a movie about the lives of young newcomers.

The video, called 'Mitt Nya Hem' (My New Home), features the girls' peers and friends in their new lives, and reflects on what they've been through to get there.

”I showed the movie to my friends in Romania and they cried, really,” Iulia says. ”They cried about the situation of those people who left their countries to come here.”

The project was really just done for fun, but it took four months of hard work to put together, and plenty of support from Rokibath.

“They didn't have much experience or anything, but they believed in themselves,” Rokibath says. “I don't know anything about moviemaking either, but sometimes, students just want the support, someone to believe in them.”

Rokibath tried to find someone who could lend the girls equipment and help with the editing process, but really she just encouraged them to believe in themselves.

So what's next for the duo, now that their video is done?

“We want to go to the Oscars,” Yeganeh laughs. “Not as audience but participants. Because of our future films!”

More Stories

Anas Awad with his "Swedish family" told his story to The Local Voices

Sharing the best of The Local Voices

We told a lot of great stories in 2016. Did you get to read and share them all? READ
Tributes were paid to Swedish DJ and producer Avicii at the Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas, where he was hailed as an inspiration and influence by other artists. READ
Police are investigating links to gang crime after a man was shot dead in Gothenburg last night. READ
Sweden's ice hockey champs are set to enjoy a triumphant homecoming on Monday after retaining their world championship title with a dramatic shoot-out victory. READ
For British communications professional Georgina Varadi, moving to Sweden has meant being more engaged and also having a more fulfilling work-life balance. READ
Photo: Erik Gerhardsson

'History will record how everyone reacted to the Syrian tragedy'

Erik, a 21-year-old Swedish volunteer, reflects on his experience helping refugees in Sweden and abroad. READ
The Islamic Cultural Center of Hässleholm was destroyed in a fire on Saturday night. READ
A four-month-old law banning the use of mobile phones in the car has not had much of an effect on Sweden’s motorists. READ
Haitian-born Canadian Adonis Stevenson retained his World Boxing Council light-heavyweight title on Saturday after fighting Sweden's Badou Jack to a majority draw in which no judge scored him a winner. READ
Title-holders Sweden booked their place in the final of the world ice hockey championships Saturday with a 6-0 whitewash of the United States. READ

This Iranian teaches Swedish online to 10,000 followers

"I’m exporting Swedish to my homeland." READ