The Highlight of the Week

Young people sitting on a wood bench outside.
I get up, sit in front of the computer with some work, meet up with either a friend or family and go for a walk, come home, go to bed, wake up.  That’s about how the days look to me now, and many others.  I am not going to complain. There are many others for whom it’s much worse than for me.  But for me, this is very challenging and non-stimulating.
 
But in these times I have something that actually contributes to a light in my everyday life now, and I thank my internship, for that.  Right, intership.  I usually read a candidate in social anthropology at Stockholm University and this semester I chose to do an internship on a project at Fryshuset called Together For Sweden, TFS, which works to create a dialogue between young people with different religions and cultural backgrounds.
 
I wanted to go out into the field and learn by doing, not just by reading theories.  Don’t get me wrong, I like what I study, but this way I get an understanding of a variety of cultures and how society / culture goes together.  But at my internship and also at my job as a volunteer at Save the Children’s support chat “Kärleken är fri”(which translates Love is free)which is aimed at honor-related violence and oppression, I get to practice my knowledge.  
 
I’m glad I chose to do my internship at TFS.  In only 3 months has my perspective and view of things widened and I have met a bunch of lovely people who I learn new things from daily!  I can talk about lots of what I learned, but as I mentioned above, I have one thing that actually contributes some light in these corona times.
 
I have been given the opportunity, together with a colleague, to hold an interreligious education for young people between 16-23 years old.  We discuss topics such as prejudice, identity, rights and norms.  Four important subjects that contribute to understanding and knowledge, which I believe are two keywords for acceptance.
 
Talking about these issues, as well as reflecting on oneself, contributes to a deeper understanding of each other, making it easier for us to open up to each oth er. One exercise we do at the very beginning to build the team and create openness in the group, is that we discuss why interreligious work is important. We also turn the question around and ask: “What are the obstacles to cooperation between people with different religions / views of life?”
 
Through these discussions, the participants themselves can explore opportunities and challenges, which leads to a certain understanding of why the work we do is important.
 
We meet this group once a week (keeping great distance to each other). It’s magical!  We are a group of about 12 people from all different backgrounds – me as a Jew, another as a Christian, a Muslim – you name it!  
 
Every time we meet, I hear “it feels like we’ve known each other for years” and “you’re a second family” and to clarify, we’ve only met 5 times.  These comments and when I see us together give me hope.  There is community and acceptans to be found everywhere, you just have to be receptive and be open minded, which I believe everyone can be, sometimes you just need patience.
 
I am so grateful that I get the opportunity to lead this training group, because just as we have contributed new knowledge to them, they have taught me a lot.  This week is the last scheduled meeting, but we have all decided it is not.  Why should we leave each other?  We have so much fun together and after all, the meetings are the highlight of the week!  In these times there is a lot you can help with, so I’m exited for what the future will bring.
 

Josefine Guter studies Social Anthropology at University of Stockholm. This semester she does an internship at the programme Together for Sweden, run by Fryshuset.  She is also a volunteer at Save the Children, working with their support chat “Love is free” giving support to children and young people subject to honor-related violence and oppression.