White flakes

Of Nightingale, mentoring for a newcomer, volunteering in Greece and other stuff

Long time since I wrote and it is surely time to keep track of routines and busy lives here in Malmö.

Let’s start saying that Malmö is a crazy city if you are interested in seeing how a society with different cultures is developing and may develop in the future. If you are an international student and living in a monocultural society may sometimes give you some anxiety, then Malmö is surely the place to be, where a bit more than in other places – at least from my point of view – people learn to see inside a person and not only stopping from their look. Of course, I am talking about a slighty difference and especially within the international students environment. Still, being in the middle of the change make you think of how little actions can make a difference and you are eager to influence things on a bigger scale. Together with being a bit less of an original Swedish society than other Swedish cities may be, it comes along that organization at vary levels is not as good as other places.

As coming back from Italy in January, I started the seconde module of the bachelor’s programme, as well as a distance course based at Malmö University, given in Swedish and called “Bilingualism and Identity” in which I totally dive in during my hours sitting at this lovely university library. First university course in Swedish and I totally recommend this one to everyone!

I then continued to meet my mentor child once a week within the Nightingale mentoring program, and things seemed to be better already from the first time we met after the long time of Christmas holidays.

As mentioned before, Malmö is a place full of integration related organizations, volunteering structures and, last but not least, start ups. Surely this makes you tjink a lot about what you could do to actually help people and not just send some likes or interests on Facebook.

Therefore, always in January, I decided to finally take action after I thought it through for quite a long time, and contacted Malmö municipality’s social work organization to apply as a mentor for a new comer to the city. Those whom I actually contacted are the “Sociala Resursförvaltningen, Ensamkommande barn. Familjehemsvården (Social Resource Management, Unaccompanied children, Foster home care), the links are two. “I Malmö möts vi” (in Malmö we meet) is an organization/activity where one can get involved voluntarily to help people who just arrived to Sweden/Malmö through telling them about the culture, or simply talking to/spending time with them as someone they can trust. The mentor is supposed to have lived in Sweden a while and know the basics of the structure, culture and language of the country/place. Unfortunately, in January they told me they were not in need of any mentor for the moment, but just yesterday I received an email asking me if it was ok for me to have my application forwarded to “I Malmö möts vi”. So I am simply waiting for further responses.

It is maturing in me the idea of going to volunteer helping refugees in Greece, through a Swedish NGO I was suggested about during the week. Let’s see how things develop, including the 8 hours online course for humanitarian action/emergencies that needs to be undertaken in order to apply.

I was at a meeting at university with other students with the idea of starting an “Anti-Trump” student movement of protest. Many ideas and interest came up and it feels that if we are going to put motivation, organization skills and tenacity into this we could create something really interesting, including film nights, discussion events, demonstration and more events. The more the merrier. And by the way, what had started as an anti-trump movement seems likely to become more of a “disappointment-for-politics-state-of-mind” movement.

My Swedish is surprisingly getting better after a struggle faced when moving to Skåne because of the dialect…less surprisingly and a bit sad, my English is not really developing in parallel, indeed it feels like I am getting only worse.

For two days ago it started to snow. An incredible amount of snow flakes (to be in Malmö!) finally landed on the city…it had happened earlier in the last months to see some snow flakes, and even a snow storm covered the calm and windy city of Malmö, but flakes never actually landed on the ground. We definitely experience a special snow effect, since it rather goes back to the sky as it is uses to be quite windy! So goodbye to my bike for the moment, as I am sure that if I ride it again I would slip as nothing as ice is covering much of the streets now.  But at least, taking the bus I can joke a bit on the traditional way Swedes have while waiting for the bus…staying in queue! I just saw a meme about it, but it actually happens! See some funny ones below!

I will leave the library now and start to go home, see you soon!

Risultati immagini per swedes waiting for the bus20170208_075131

Näktergalen mentorsverksamhet – The Nightingale program

Definitely one of the most valuable and satisfying experiences I have decided to put myself into during this first semester at Malmö university, is that of being mentor for a girl as part of the Nightingale program. In Swedish “Näktergalen” the idea of a network of children between 8 and 12 years and university students was actualy started in the city of Malmö in 1997. I wonder if any other city would have given such a chance for a program like this to develop, taking in mind the high level of cultures present here and the social issue which came forward as a theme to be faced following an innovative path. But what is the Nightingale program about?

Basically, applications are received from a bunch of university students who want to dedicate 2-3 hours of a day in the week to a child, doing daily activities, such as getting around in the city, talking, watching a film, baking etc. On the other side, children between the age of 8 and 12 attending different primary schools send their applications, looking forward to meet their mentor, someone who will be a friendly, adult, and fun person to be with. Both of them will send their applications with their interests, motivations, and a photo, and other thing which may be relevant and useful when it comes to the matching. As a mentor, one will have an introduction course on what it means and implies to take part in the program, and then visit the school to meet the teachers and get to know where the class of your child is – since you will mostly pick your “mentor child” from school.

Neither kids nor mentors get to know each other if not on the starting day, which in the case of Malmö university was yesterday. After I “was found” by my mentor child looking for the number I was holding, we went around for a quiz walk – in Swedish “tips promenad” really characteristic of the Swedish culture – to get to know each other a bit more. Later on mentors, children and parents met each other to learn a bit more about, at the end, everything about it. Which days are best to meet, contact details, allergies and other “adult stuff”, while of course eating a fika and getting coffee.

What the program is not about. It has nothing to do with working as a baby sitter. The mentoring is voluntary and meeting times are decided together with the child and the parents, taking in mind the load everyone has because of university study and work, as well as personal needs and other planning issues. It is just about meeting once a week for 2 to 3 hours each and it is definitely something that, if you want, you can make as part of your routine with no problems. There is completely aknowledgement about the meeting time and nor of the parts are supposed to feel stressed about finding time to meet, otherwise the all meaning of the program would disappear. Although, the point of the program is to care about the other, for both the student and the child to be responsible and flexible and to be open to learn from the other and teach the other things. In some way one of the meanings of the process is to learn to teach to and learn from the other and stay with the other. Recognizing someone’s values as well as encouraging them, engaging themselves in something you would not think you would otherwise do.

The Nightingale program is part of the variety of programs available at different universities and schools in Europe, especially in the Scandinavian countries, plus in Uganda. It is reaching more and more popularity through years. When I was in London one month ago, visiting the office of “The Challenge” which “raises awareness of the social and economic risks associated with social segregation”, we talked about their interest in starting to be part of this mentoring program, so the network is continuously is growing.