Days 309 to 311 — New classmates

In and amongst all the great times at soccer games and walks along the coast, I still have my daily punishment learning Swedish. New students occasionally come into the class from another class and today I was working with two of them on an exercise. Both were women from Iraq. We were chatting and I asked one when she left Iraq. 2005, she said. The other woman left last September. Both lived in Baghdad. At one point I began to realize some internal discomfort. As an American, my tax dollars supported the illegal invading and trashing of these women’s homeland. I told them that I was sorry what my country had done to their country. They both replied that they had met Americans and felt they were very kind, friendly people and had always helped them. One said that she did not think it was George Bush who started this but the people behind him. Not being willing to let the worst president in U.S. history off the hook so easily, I countered that he could have said “No” to the invasion and we left it at that.

I did some looking around the Internet about Iraqis in Sweden because it seemed that I have run into quite a few. One summer several years ago we were over her on vacation and the people working in the kiosks seemed to all be Iraqis, a big change from the previous summer. It turns out that Sweden has granted more Iraqis asylum than any other Western country. By comparison, I found that in 2006, the U.S. granted asylum to 202 Iraqis. Sweden approved more than 9,000 asylum seekers. If one member of a family made it to Sweden, his or her family was automatically granted admittance as well when they arrived. I heard one time that if an Iraqi refugee could get to Sweden they were automatically granted asylum. Thousands more had come earlier during Saddam’s regime and the Iraqi War with Iran. Iraqis now constitute the second largest minority in Sweden after Finns. Arrivals have access to shelter, job training, language classes and even an allowance. Seems like quite a lot to take on for a country of 9.5 million. Sweden was never a member of the “Coalition of the Willing” (a phrase that deserves to be in quotes if ever there was one) and had no obligation to do anything. They just did. Says a lot about this socialistic society.

Regardless of what anyone thinks of the Iraq War (and anyone reading this blog who was for the war is hereby denied further access in perpetuity), my two classmates have obviously benefitted from the country’s policy and I am glad to have met them.

And speaking of wars, my own battle with conjugating irregular Swedish verbs in the past progressive tense continues to look like the aftermath of the Battle of Falujah.




4 thoughts on “Days 309 to 311 — New classmates

  1. I have really been enjoying meeting so many people from different countries in my SFI course. Cultures have always interested me, even though I was never a fan of history or politics and they come hand in hand. I don’t know if you have ever been told this, but when I was in school the teachers used to tell us that if we traveled to another country- lie and say we are Canadian because no one likes Americans and you’ll have less questions and accusations to answer. Your story just reminded me of that.

    Ps. Just thinking of irregular verbs in the past progressive tense makes me want to cry! We are currently having the unpleasant experience of adjective/subjective cooperation. I hate en/ett! 🙂

    • Oh, yeah, I still have scars from that. In fact I had salt rubbed in it today in class when I said that I had only been in Sweden “en” r. “Ett r!” corrected Ulla loudly.

  2. I was working in a previous company with an Iraqi girl when the last Iraq war broke out. She used to live in Baghdad previously, and on the news saw one area/building that she knew after another destroyed. I can’t imagine what that must have been like. The interesting thing was that (unlike me) she wasn’t actually against the war, because she wanted to see Saddam gone. I guess there are always a few sides to every story.

    And in Swedish I’m fighting with irregular verb tenses too… and prepositions… I’m actually really looking forward to SFI, as I’m mostly studying on my own at home right now. Greetings from a soon-to-be immigrant to Sweden 🙂

    • Yeah, there is no question Saddam was a jerk X 1000. Studying Swedish on your own is impressive. If you are that dedicated, sfi will be a snap for you when you start. Where are you living now and when are you moving to Sweden? It’s nice to see some Americans catching on to what this country has to offer. I think the tourist industry would boom here if word got out about Sweden in summer.

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