Last month a group of students from Harlem Educational Activities Fund (HEAF) spent an afternoon with me in Ginny’s Supper Club to learn about Swedish food and culture. The discussion and cooking demonstration were in preparation for the students’ trip to Stockholm as part of HEAF’s Learning for Social Impact cultural literacy course. I recently caught up with Jadira Mora, HEAF’s Program Coordinator of College Quest, to hear more about the group’s adventures in my homeland.
The students kicked off their trip with an invigorating bike tour of the Royal National City Park. They got to see the area the way most Scandinavians do – by bicycle. Other trip highlights include a tour of Stockholm City Hall, a fascinating lesson on the history of Swedish music, a visit with the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, and a meeting with King Entertainment, the creators of Candy Crush Saga. Additionally, the LSI class enjoyed conversations with The Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce over a traditional Swedish Fika (coffee break). The HEAF students also met kids their own age to compare personal experiences, and attended the first World Cup game screening put on by Ortens Favoriter, a youth organization in the suburbs. I wish I could’ve been there!
Jadira facilitated debriefings each night so the students could discuss their experiences of the day. The students faced a lot of culture shock, and were surprised to encounter a different kind of diversity in Sweden. They found that diversity often relates to different nationalities instead of different colors of skin.
Of course, the HEAF students thoroughly enjoyed Swedish cuisine. They ate meatballs similar to the kind I made with them, enjoyed a lot of fish, and even tried Gubbröra, which is a traditional Swedish anchovy dish that translates to “Old Man’s Mix.” The students were surprised at the large portion sizes that were available in restaurants, and were delighted by Swedish chocolate. (We do have the best candy!)
It was great to hear about the students’ trip, and it was an honor to work with them beforehand to discuss my experience growing up in Sweden. I hope to see my HEAF friends again soon.