SONY DSC“You realise how blind you are to your own preconceived ideas.”

When Miriam Nygren spent 6 months in Ethiopia she was struck by how curious and welcoming people were towards her as a foreigner. Once she arrived back in Gothenburg she wanted a chance to give back and provide the same warm welcome she’d received, so she decided to get involved in the City of Gothenburg’s project Flyktingguide Göteborg (Refugee Guide Gothenburg). Through the project, she’s found a new friend – Fatha from Eritrea.

Tell us what the project is all about!

The idea is simple: each person is paired up with a person who has recently arrived in Sweden, and together they come up with ideas for outings and activities they can do together every week or every other week. From time to time, there are also group activities they can get involved in if they want to have contact with more people within the project, simply so they can meet other people new to Sweden and get the chance to meet native Swedes, and vice versa!

What have you learnt through this project?

A lot! It’s fun to hear about Sweden from an outsider’s perspective, and to laugh at things you’ve never thought were strange before. It provides insight into things you didn’t realise about your country. I’ve been both fascinated and upset by all the stories about how complicated and bureaucratic things can be here, especially for people coming here who want to work in an occupation they’re actually trained to work in back in their home country. It’s crazy! Also, it’s always enlightening and stimulating to spend time with people from another background. You realise how blind you are to your own preconceived ideas, and also what things you take for granted.

If you want to do the same thing as Miriam and get involved with Flyktingguide Göteborg you can apply via the City of Gothenburg website. There are also refugee guide initiatives in Stockholm and Katrineholm, amongst other places. 

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