After being in Sweden for slightly over a year, I moved in to a shared house. In this household, we were four foreigners and one Swede. Every year we celebrated midsummer together like an odd and loving family.
One midsummer party, I had as usual made the hummus and baba ghanoujfor starters, unaware of the full guest list. As I’m putting the final touches of garnish on my dishes, a woman cries: “Oh, hummus!! This makes me feel so much at home!”
Naturally, I address her in Arabic. She looks at me baffled like she didn’t understand a word. She was a Jewish European with family links in Israel, who grew up with hummus as a traditional dish. Ok, here we are, I said to myself, with a million questions racing through my head. Here she stands in front of me, the person I only read about in history books at school. My heart picked up tempo a little.
Luckily, this hummus encounter happened after I have learnt that all hearts can change. I challenged myself to speak to her about non-conflictual issues,to feel that we are simply two women in this world, so we can get into a conversation even about our political views with kindness.
Thank you midsummer. Thank you paganism.
This is the third blog out of four by Ola Saleh addressing the theme of change, drawing from her experiences and encounters as a refugee in Sweden.
The Ex:es: Former Neo-Nazi and Ex-Criminal Friends
A Muslim in the House
All Hearts Can Change
Ola Saleh, an Arab with Islamic background, accidentally found the meaning of home between a Palestinian host and a Jewish guest.
She has extensive experience in programme design, management, mediation and leadership in conflict and post-conflict contexts. She works as the peacebuilding advisor at the Kvinna till Kvinna foundation in Sweden. She came to Sweden as a refugee in 2013,