Sweden 2012 - Day 1
By: Hussein Samatar
I am fully aware of how lucky I am to not only survive Somalia’s brutal civil war but to travel internationally and observe the condition and integration of the Somali-Diaspora in Europe. First, I would like to thank my wife, Ubah Jama, who tirelessly takes care of our four children with such ease and grace whenever I am on the road. I would also like to thank all of ADC’s staff – without whom there is no story to tell about our work. And finally I would like to thank you all for reading my blog and following my actives on my Facebook page.
The following are my views, and not necessarily the views of the African Development Center of Minnesota. I will try to honestly report, reflect, and share my trip. I have no intention of offending with my personal insights, but as always, please let me know if you feel I have.
The travel was long. I left the Twin Cities around 7:25 p.m. on Tuesday May 1st. My layover was at the Amsterdam Airport and it was less than two hours. I arrived in Copenhagen around 2:30 pm. on May 2nd. The public transpiration of Sweden and Denmark is impeccable. I wish we had such an efficient public transit system in the Twin Cities. Of course, we do have the Hiawatha line, and are getting the getting the Central Corridor, so there is progress. ADC is blessed to own a building where these two lines meet in the West Bank.
By the time I arrived at the hotel (Elite Hotel Plaza), it was already 4:30 p.m. and I had less than ninety minutes to freshen up and prepare for the pre-conference reception at Malmo’s Modern Museum which reminded me of ADC – due to the colorful orange color and modern artwork.
I am very fortunate to have Patricia Kempff to guide help me attend all of necessary meetings while I am here in Malmo. She was promptly waiting for me at the hotel lobby at 6:45 p.m., and assisted in my arrival to the reception. If it’s one thing that I have noticed in my travels to Sweden, it is their promptness.
The place was just packed. The food was okay and the company was great. I was introduced to a number of new and interesting people. It was difficult to leave, but after my travels, and with the busy days ahead, I knew I needed to head back to hotel around 9:00 p.m.
For this trip to Sweden, I was invited by the largest Swedish Bank, Swedbank to share ADC’s creative business lending work and the new financial products we have collaboratively created for the new American community in Minnesota. I am also here to share how this community from Africa, in particular the Somali community, is becoming part of the banking and financial sector’s labor force.
After I deliver my speech tomorrow, I will post my presentation with my blog . Even Minnesotan’s will be astounded to learn there are numerous Wells Fargo branches led by young, talented, and highly trained Somali and other African immigrants across the state. I will highlight one of them tomorrow.
Integration has to be real, deep, and meaningful for both the host country and the new community. The new community has to ready and willing to adapt, change, learn, grow, and become part of new system without throwing away what makes them who they are.
The Somali-Diaspora is large growing community everywhere in the globe due to the never ending civil war in proper Somalia, and the insecurities and lack of opportunities this war has created. I have previously written extensively on the Somali-Scandinavian integration experience, and it is very complicated picture. There are certainly examples where many are adapting and succeeding here, but there are many other examples where this is not happening. I will share some of my current observations after I meet the youth and the community during the week.
It is quite late now, so I will head to bed and get ready for tomorrow’s session. Again thank you for reading my blog. I am also grateful for any feedback, questions, or suggestions you may have.
As always, if you ever feel I have made a mistake or unintentionally offended anyone, please let me know via email@example.com. Feedback is always appreciated.
Thank you for traveling with me and I do appreciate you reading my blog and interacting with me.