Alice Bah Kuhnke: Welcome to Sweden!
Text: Alice Bah Kuhnke, Minister of Culture and Democracy (MP), Sweden | Translated by Julie Lindén
Welcome to Sweden!
And thank you for choosing to come here. Traveling is not only nice, it’s also a way to grow as a human being. By exposing your brain to new impressions you are compelled to think new thoughts and be inspired by others.
Traveling can also be a way to challenge a preconceived image of the country or place you are visiting. You can do this by visiting places other than what is first shown in the guide book that may be in your bag.
A precondition for the Swedish society’s evolution over the centuries has been open societies. For many, as for me, tolerance, openness and solidarity with other people are the best things about being Swedish.
In a time when right-wing extremist forces are spreading throughout many other European countries, our country holds a wide support for all people’s equal worth. Sweden is not just an elongated country in the north of Europe, it is also a country welcoming those fleeing from their homes. The Swedish people’s understanding and openness for people who come here is amongst the highest measured in the world, and the benevolence has risen constantly during the time this has been studied. There is nothing I am more proud of than this fact.
As the Minister for Culture and Democracy I would like to give you some tips on places to visit in order to enjoy a greater view of Sweden than that which is typically narrated of Vikings, ABBA and beautiful, blonde women.
Just a few streets below the Royal Palace you will find the Living History Museum. Students and teachers from all over the country come here to learn more about the Holocaust and communist crimes against humanity. Now, for instance, the museum is showing the exhibition ‘We are Roma – meet the people behind the myth’, which is based on interviews, photos and films made with or by people of Roma origin in Sweden. Here you can learn about 500 years of exclusion, nomadism, activism, joyfulness, tradition, music and hopes for the future.
At the Jewish Museum in Stockholm you will find many fascinating stories of how the Jewish national minority have played a part in building the fantastic Sweden we have today. Many Swedish-Jewish philanthropists played an important role in Swedish cultural life, for instance in the founding of the Concert Hall and through their support for famous Swedish artists.
A very important part of Sweden is the Sami indigenous people. In the northern city Jokkmokk you may not only see the beautiful Northern Lights and visit Laponia. You can also learn about Sami history at the museum ‘Ájtte’. It is a shattering story of both exclusion and pride.
Sweden is a multicultural society where people of different cultures and identities meet to build an even stronger society together. To learn more about this I recommend a visit to one of our Museums of World Culture, in Gothenburg and Stockholm.
Stockholm Metro is a 100 station long art-themed journey where each station has been decorated by one or more artists. Stockholm Public Transport, SL, arranges guided Art Walks of the works. As a bonus you get to see many more and very exciting parts of Stockholm than the city core alone.
Sweden’s strength lies in a history of diversity. I hope you get to experience and take part in it during your stay.
Welcome to us wherever you come from!
Alice Bah Kuhnke, Minister of Culture and Democracy (MP), Sweden
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