As I am gradually approaching the big day, I want to take a minute to just take in what has happened the last couple of days.
Christmas happened, and I will cover that in my next blog post, but must importantly, I had my last lesson with my most beloved class at SFI. If you are a new reader and feel that you somehow just cannot crack the nut of what these three sets of letters might refer to, it simply means: Swedish For Immigrants.
Now, before I tell you all about my last meeting with them, let me take you back about 23 years in time, to a family separated from everything they had ever known due to a war which was shredding humans lives to pieces and making people relocate, far, far away.
It was the year of 1993, and my family had resettled to this strange country where they spoke this funny sounding language and where, apparently, polar bears could be found strolling down the street?! (Obviously, the last myth is… well a myth.)
I was around 1,5 years old, finding my way around our temporary apartment and probably running after one of my brothers. My parents were, as many other refugees, trying to figure out how to start your life over as an adult in a new and completely different country from the one you have always known. Where does one begin?
Language is, thankfully, a good start. You see, when someone comes to this lovely country, SFI is compulsory in order for you to get a hint of the language, learn how to use it best you can, and have an opportunity to scratch the surface of what Swedish culture really is (Some days, this question haunts me as well. I.e. not a clear cut answer to that riddle!) not forgetting the importance of how to become part of it.
Thus, this is what my parents involved themselves in. My mother did excellent, which does not surprise anyone. This is a person who, 25 years old (the same age as me, mind you) fled a war with the clothes on her body, three toddlers, and yours truly baking in the oven. The woman has a will of steel and nothing can budge her when she has set her mind to something. My father faded out of the picture at this point in time, which is why focus will be on the madame.
This mother of mine, took on Swedish; she learned, messed up, misused words and asked the meaning of others. She challenged herself and chose to use the language even though she knew she was not always sure of how to put the words together in the right order or how to specifically ask for something in the store. Thankfully, this embarrassment helped her out on a daily basis. Whenever she would mess something up, the recipient of the conversation would correct her. As you might understand, year after year, school attendance, nagging teachers, and four children within a five year span (who won’t ever shut up) gives a woman in her now 30’s a good vocabulary and more advanced understanding of what magic you can work with the Swedish language.
Being the youngest in the family, also the only daughter, I was naturally inspired by this superhero mother who showed me that everything is possible if you want it bad enough. I swear, every time I talk to her I am reminded of how important SFI is and how important the people who work there are. How it is not only about a school for adults, trying to break the code of a really weird language, which differs from basically all other languages. It gives people hope. It helps them achieve their dreams in life. It helps them reach out in a society that otherwise treats them as strangers. It gives them a bridge between an “us-them” to a togetherness. A united society. She is my greatest example of why my job is so damn important. Why my students are so important to me.
Alas! Let us travel back to December 2016 and my last lesson with my own SFI class.
I had made Christmas cards where I had written personal messages to my students, wishing them good luck with their studies and wishing them happy holidays. As they started dropping in, my heart… sort of sank in my chest. I just could not come up with anything good to say. What do you say to people who have made such a great impact on you? Who have made you a better person, a more loving and giving person? Who has learnt what working hard looks like? I simply did not know. All I wanted to think about were these things. We had a classroom party. Dear god how much I adore these people. If any of you are reading this right now, know that I truly care for you deeply, that I wish you the best that life can give you. That all of you mean something special to me. You have made me a better teacher, a better partner, a better daughter, and a better friend. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.
Regarding my exchange studies, everything feels like a surreal dream. Every time I think about me actually boarding a plane to another continent, I somehow can not believe it… Until I think about SFI and my cleared desk, my farewell to my students and colleagues. I love that place, I love how I have grown because of it, and I hope I will be able to come back and continue growing. (You’re with me on this one, right Y?)
When I came home from the farewell party, I felt so empty. I was in a sort of chock. Dear world, let my path lead me back to these wonderful people!