Swedish exchange students share culture with SRJC

Jerome Janairo, News Editor

Sweden’s historical and modern-day significance was the topic of the night in a presentation prepared by this year’s batch of Swedish exchange students. The message conveyed to their SRJC audience: Sweden matters more than you think.

The presentation by the 21 students was held on April 4 in Newman Auditorium, and was an opportunity for them to showcase Swedish history and culture to an American audience.

After a brief introduction, the presenters (wearing Viking hats) began with the Scandinavian country’s ancient history, such as its Viking past and Norse mythology, which included familiar deities like Odin and Thor. Sweden’s historical role in international affairs was also discussed, referring to its early ambitions to become a global power by colonizing other parts of the world.

But the presentation placed special emphasis on Sweden’s little-known relationship with the U.S., starting with Viking expeditions to the North American continent, Swedish settlements in colonial-era America, and the wave of immigrants in the early 20th century who came the United States of America. The focus then shifted towards the impact of Swedish immigration to American culture, such as the Swedish origins of words like “smorgasbord” and “ombudsman” (with proper Swedish pronunciations) and common last names like “Anderson” and “Lindstrom.” American influence on Swedish society through pop culture and the Internet was also discussed.

Finally, the Swedes touted their country’s modern accomplishments, such as its successful multinational companies like IKEA and Volvo, as well as its newfound pride in multiculturalism through immigration.

After the presentation, the Swedes answered questions from the audience, who were curious about Swedish society as well as the exchange students’ impressions on being in Santa Rosa.

The Swedish presenters said that they were all nervous performing in front of an American audience, despite the amount of preparation they have done for the presentation.

“Actually we practiced quite a lot. We worked on this presentation early Autumn,” exchange student Daniel Apler said. He added that they took a speech course prior to coming to the U.S.

“I think the language was the hardest part,” said Rebecca Liljeström. She said the big crowd made her nervous, and felt relieved when the presentation was over.

Business Administration instructor Peg Saragina said she is proud of the Swedish exchange students’ performance.