The adult education center in Halmstad is a large three floor building that serves the continuing education needs of the citizenry in town. The curriculum teaches everything from nursing to taxi driving but it largest focus is their SFI program, Swedish for Immigrants, of which I am one.
Today, I enrolled in the course and school starts on Aug. 29. In a town of about 85,000 I was astounded to learn that there are 500 people enrolled in SFI from 70 countries, principally Pakistan, Iraq and Balkan states. There are even a few Americans.
They have an online course that parallels the classroom work, which I plan to get into tomorrow since it is supposed to rain all day.
I have a year to complete and pass the course, at which point I will collect a 12,000 kronor bonus (that is nearly $2,000 today and by next year with a sick dollar could be $3,000). That’s right, they are paying me (and everybody who settles here) to learn their language. Astounding when you think about the clerks at WalMart back home who are almost impossible to communicate with because they barely speak English. Sweden is definitely interested in integrating immigrants into the society.
Not that there aren’t problems. The unemployment rate among immigrants in Malmö, Sweden’s third largest city is 25%, compared to about 6% for the country as a whole. At least they are trying.
Another problem is that the sun set tonight at 8:38. It seems only a month ago we were out at Tylösand watching it go down at nearly 10:00. I choose not to think about December right now.
But I am learning the beauty of temperatures in the 60s. 18 C. equals 64 F. and that was the water temperature today, which is awfully pleasant. With the sun shining, it’s all good.