I read recently that fully 14% of those living today in Sweden were born in other countries. The stereotype of blonde, blue-eyed Sweden is no longer as absolute as it was, say fifty years ago.
In my twenty person Swedish class the following countries are represented: Iran, Kosovo, Hong Kong, Nepal, Hungary, Bosnia, Serbia, Romania, Poland, Iraq, Turkey, the Philippines and the good ol’ US of A.l As a friend pointed out this evening, anyone with blonde hair probably already speaks Swedish.
Sweden definitely makes efforts to assimilate immigrants into the culture and these SFI (Swedish for Immigrants) is but one example. During the Iraq war, there was a policy that anyone from Iraq who could make it to Sweden was automatically granted asylum and residency. (The U.S. had no such policy and Sweden has taken in many, many, many times more Iraqis than the U.S., which caused the debacle.)
Imagine if there was an EFI program running in the U.S. You could go to Wal-Mart and actually get a question answered. I was somewhat astonished a few summers ago after returning from our summer vacation here to find that the clerks we dealt with in stores wherever we were in the country spoke better English than the clerks in stores in our neighborhood. It makes you wonder.
In other news, the tree that the kid plowed into a few days ago was sawed down for some reason and is now lying alongside the road in logs. The accident shaved the bark off the front of the trunk for about a meter but other than that the tree was fine. It wasn’t even leaning noticeably. The car and driver got the worst of the deal by far. But maybe losing a portion of its bark left it open to infection and they decided to take it down. It is not as if there is a shortage of trees in Sweden. About 2/3rds of the country is forest. I have never lived in a forest and I have to say it is growing on me. Something is growing on me, maybe moss. The floor deep in a forest is the softest thing imaginable. Really wonderful.