When Sweden Comes to Call

Friday Haruto and his family moved back to Japan leaving a hole in our class community.  Today that hole was filled with new energy and substance as Sven arrived from Sweden to spend his first day with us.  Last day/first day….. In some ways the two are so much alike, all passageways between worlds and memories that will take on a life of their own

The students looked on in wonder as our new student came through the door.  He is the first student I have had from Sweden.  I always love that when my universe expands with a new culture, not yet part of the fabric of our multicultural quilt of families and  their, yet untold, stories.  I also have my first Tunisian, my first Brazilians,  and my first  student from Kyrgyzstan.  The world has knocked on my door.

“Prater du Svensk?”  I ask this a bit haltingly from the deepest recess of my mind  Sven looks at me in surprise and starts speaking Swedish.  Now it is time for a reality check.  I just threw at him all  the Swedish I remember from a Swedish class I took in night school in Germany over thirty years ago.  At the time, I was teaching English in a German high school and struggling to learn German, so I am not sure why I thought it might be a good idea to add Swedish to that , but I enrolled in the Swedish class none the less.  The teacher gave explanations and translations in German , not English, so that made it all the more fun  This many years later that is all I had to show for it.  This was soon apparent and the excited student stopped mid sentence when he recognized that look of bewilderment on my face.

Sven’s English is stellar  When he begins to speak, the room. becomes very quiet and we are all charmed by his  British accent.   I. think to myself, he speaks better than I do.  I have to find a way to get everyone to talk, as they are mesmerized by his new and charming accent.  To  get to know one another, we share stories and play games Just today, I created the cherry blossom snowstorm.  Everyone gets  a piece of pink paper.  On it,  “Write something we don’t already know about you. Now, fold the paper to look like a cherry blossom, squish it.”   So we all stand with our new found cherry blossoms in hand.  “Now, make it snow”  We throw our cherry blossoms up in the air and when they fall, we all collect one from the ground.  As we open them we guess who said whatever is written there 

I learn that Sven is a big fan of Real Madrid and doesn’t like Barcelona at all- an immediate common bond with the class, soccer!  

And so, a new day begins.  Sweden has come to call.

11 thoughts on “When Sweden Comes to Call

  1. Oh my goodness! Your class is one that just makes me smile each time I find your blog! You make our Iowa behavior problems look dull! 🙂

    Thanks for giving us a peak inside and welcome Sven! 🙂

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  2. I love the cherry blossom game. I should try this with my surly ninth graders. Might be kind of fun. I think it is interesting the change in dynamic that happens when a new student enters the classroom. You do such a great job of describing your students’ positive responses to Sven.

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    1. Thanks. If you do the activity, try projecting pictures of cherry blossoms on a screen in front on your class first. I think this could work fine with 9th graders. Have fun!

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  3. My favorite thing about his post is your true embrace of new kiddos, especially ones from far away! I love the phrase of untold stories. Your classroom sounds like a great place to be.

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  4. “I always love that when my universe expands with a new culture, not yet part of the fabric of our multicultural quilt of families and their, yet untold, stories.” – Your posts are woven of such fascinating, diverse threads; your own story, in seeking the students’, is a rich and magnificent tapestry. Through your writing shines your love and appreciation of the children (and their families) for who they are. You’re a beacon of welcome, lighting the way to a place of belonging. The cherry blossom activity, incorporating both writing and welcome, is lovely – I could see it as I read. I’ve done something similar with white paper – “snowballs” – but I think I shall morph it into cherry blossoms next time.

    Beautiful all around – and the very best to Haruto, Sven, and each of you. 🙂

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  5. WOW!!! What a fun glimpse into your classroom! Loved learning about all the places your students come from. Laughed as you share about speaking in Swedish. Loved the game you played! So tinely and creative! I may play that in my STAR class this week! Your students are lucky to have your excitement and appreciaion for learning.

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    1. Sally, project a picture of the cherry blossoms down at the Tidal Basin as you play. It gives atmosphere and you can let them all know that starting in a week, the blossoms will be at their peak.

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