Today I participated in a conference called Integration through Interaction with many good acting partners involved – from the Swedish government to non-profit organizations and social entrepreneurs. For me who am committed to issues like these it was an enormous pleasure to see so many people in all parts of the society who’re just as dedicated and all their varied competence. Tahmoures Yassami from SIOS Syd held a short introduction, followed by a great speech by Margareta Pålsson who’s county governor in Scania, the most southern province of Sweden. It was obvious that she had a genuine dedication for trying to solve the different problems and include as many as possible as well as possible.
There were about 170 participants at the conference which was well organized and a good opportunity for different people to discuss, making contacts as well as initiate possible co-operations and alliances to solve or at least minimize unemployment, social problems, racism and discrimination. I, like all the others, discussed with old friends, colleagues and employers and made new contacts. More information about national agreements concerning integration issues you find at http://www.regeringen.se/sb/d/9735, and regional agreements at http://www.overenskommelsenskane.se. Representatives from the Government, the County council and municipalities in the region presented the agenda for how they respectively work with fullfilling and following up the national agreements. Professor Masoud Kamali from Mittuniversitetet in Östersund had an interesting lecture about different problems and possibilities with multiculturism and integration. I have listened to Masoud Kamali three times now and must say that I agree with what he has to say about it.
There were some breaks as well when we could stretch our legs and discuss with others, which was very important. Then we were divided into different groups for workshops to discuss the following issues: 1) Health and housing, 2) Meeting places, 3) Anti-discrimination, 4) Language and Education, 5) Work. I was in one of the groups that discussed what we have to do to enhance the possibilities for getting people into jobs. We had interesting discussions and presented our ideas. At five pm there was an ironic theatre play that presented in a very precise and funny way different aspects of what is typically Swedish and what is not. It was the stand-up actress Lena Frisk, along with Eva Westerling and Peter Friedh that made us laugh at ourselves in “All you need to know about Swedes”. The conference ended with a panel debate with Andreas Schönström, Social democrat and responsible for labour market issues in Malmoe municipality, Birgitta Södertun, Christian Democrat, and Yngve Pettersson, the Environment Party.
It was with a good feeling in my body and sense of hope that I left the conference two and a half hours ago. I really hope that we all who were there, along with many others, can make a difference. We really have to if you ask me. Do you agree?
Anders Moberg, November 19th 2012