This week was Core Course Week, which means it’s been all European security all week. In particular, we’ve been focusing on one of Sweden’s most controversial political issues: immigration. We started off in Stockholm as usual with primers and discussions on immigration and integration in Sweden, and we got to talk with speakers from a range of political backgrounds about future possibilities. Then it was off to Gothenburg, Sweden’s second city, where we got a firsthand look at the situation.
Our main focus was Hjällbo, a suburb of Gothenburg that has been largely segregated and disconnected from Swedish society. Many refugees and other immigrants, mainly from parts of the Middle East and Africa, have been taken into Sweden but not integrated. In Hjällbo, we met some of the people who work to help these immigrants integrate and counter the criminal organizations that often target them for recruitment. The highlight of our visits was at Caritas [link], a Catholic organization where immigrants can go to learn Swedish, train in a trade, and adjust to life in Sweden. With translation help from our professor Steve Turner, the leader of the Hjällbo branch led an interesting and informative talk about the difficulties of integration, while some of the immigrants that had learned there provided stories of their experience–and some traditional food from their countries of origin. We also learned from local social workers and politicians about their work to keep the community safe.
Of course, not all of our time in Gothenburg was spent in meetings. Core Course Week is also meant to bring the class together, and I’d say it did a pretty good job! From activities like boule and an interactive museum to evenings of exploring the city, I got to know my classmates better than ever.
I’m back in Stockholm now after a packed day of traveling yesterday, and I’m exhausted, but in a good way. Now it’s time for me to rest up and readjust to normal classes. Vi hörs!