Archive for black Scandinavia

Powerful Woman – Alice Bah Kuhnke

Alice Bah Kuhnke

PWL.2014 IMAGE.007 300x225 Powerful Woman   Alice Bah Kuhnke

Alice Bah Kuhnke is the Swedish Minister of Culture and Democracy since October 2014, a former television presenter, Board Professional and one of the founders of the think tank Sektor3. On October 3 she was elected to Minister of culture in the Löfven Cabinet, just three days after becoming member of Miljöpartiet (the Green Party of Sweden).

BioBah grew up in Horda in Småland, Sweden with her father from Gambia and Swedish mother. She went to a track and field athletics oriented high school in Växjö, and was one of the country’s best female sprinter runners in the late 1980s, with 200 meters being her speciality. Her television career began in 1992 with SVT’s Disney Club. Between 1998-99, she had her own talk show at TV4 and many other television assignments including current events show Kalla fakta.

After she left television to study political science, and has, among other things, been Director of the Department Ideas for life at insurance giant Skandia. In 2004-2007 she worked as Secretary General of fair trade organization Rättvisemärkt.

She was a member of the Swedish Church synod 2006-2010, member of the Board of Dramaten Theatre, as well as Vice President of YMCA-YWCA Sweden.

In September 2009 she started as the Environmental and Corporate social responsibility manager at ÅF. Alongside her job at ÅF, she also serves as a board member for internet consultancy firm Doberman.

Source: Wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alice_Bah_Kuhnke

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Powerful Woman – Cecilia Gärding

Cecilia Gärding

PWL.2014 IMAGE.006 300x225 Powerful Woman   Cecilia Gärding

Cecilia Gärding is Swedish and South African and was born in Sweden. Her background is both in academia and the arts. She has a Bachelor of Arts in ethnology and a Master’s Degree in political science, where her main interest is integration and diversity issues. She is a film producer and director and a member of the band Khumalo.

Her essays have focused on youth and integration policy and education issues. She worked for the Ministry of Justice in 2006 for then Integration Minister Jens Orback as a political expert focusing on the labor market, education and youth.

She continues to developing cultural projects that strengthen vulnerable groups in society and also create international projects in countries with conflict zones to use culture as a means of conflict resolution. Cecilia created “Innovate4peace” as a forum for innovation in peace and reconciliation work where partners together with industry and other stakeholders are using innovation for a better society. Cecilia was name one “Women Inspiring Europe 2014 and is the ADYNE Ambassador for Sweden.

Sources: ceciliagarding.se and wearelikeoranges.org
http://www.ceciliagarding.se
http://www.wearelikeoranges.org

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Alice Bah Kuhnkes is Sweden’s new Minister for Culture and Democracy

200px Alice Bah Kuhnke Alice Bah Kuhnkes is Swedens new Minister for Culture and Democracy

Sweden’s new Minister for Culture

Many people were disappointed with the election results in Sweden. Seems there may not be many if any mandates over the next four years. However, in my opinion, one bit of good news is the appointment of Alice Bah Kuhnkes as Minister for Culture and Democracy. She became only the second black minister in the Swedish government following Nyamko Sabuni.

Alice Bah Kuhnke 300x188 Alice Bah Kuhnkes is Swedens new Minister for Culture and Democracy

Click on the photo above to view her career in pictures on the Svenska Dagblaet website. Sure, it is in Swedish but a picutre paints a thousand words, right?

 Alice Bah Kuhnkes is Swedens new Minister for Culture and Democracy

Alice Bah Kuhnke till TV4: Det var slagsmål om kulturministerposten. FOTO: Yvonne Åsell

The new Culture MInister was born and raised in southern Sweden, had a successful career in media, founded a think tank for civil society, Sektor3, worked as a sustainability manager at a technology consultancy company and was General Director of The Youth Board.

You can find out much, much more at her website:
http://www.mp.se/om/alice-bah-kuhnke

Editor’s note: The former culture minister disappointed a lot of people when she was photographed laughing while cutting a screaming, human black face cake.

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Lessons learned: From my mother and while living in Sweden

In the 9th article in our Inside View series Faith set out to travel the world while making a difference in people’s lives. While in Sweden she got a phone call that changed her life forever.

At about 10:00pm on August 28, 2007, I arrived at Stockholm Arlanda airport. I remember the day so vividly because it was the eve of my 24th birthday. I had just left Phuket, Thailand after spending about two weeks there, most of which were spent with me suffering and recovering from food poisoning.

About three months prior I had just received my Master’s degree in Educational Administration and Policy at Howard University in Washington, DC. Instead of joining the work force like most of my peers, I decided instead to travel with a global education program called Up with People. The program is an opportunity for participants to travel for 6 months with others from around the world to volunteer and perform a show of cultural peace.

I can remember a couple of days after I arrived in the very multi-cultural Sodertalje, Sweden, I emailed my mother to tell her that one day I hoped to move to Sweden. To me, Stockholm, especially reminded me of Chicago. Perhaps the Swedish immigrants in Chicago felt similarly. My mother’s reply was that she and I could move there together for a couple of months. It was a great suggestion; one that I hoped would come true. After all, she was my best friend.

It was only about 20 days later, while in Vimmerby, Sweden that I got a very disturbing email. My father emailed me to say that I should come home right away. He told me that my mother was sick. I knew immediately that my mother was dead. She was gone and I was all the way in Sweden.

My journey back to Chicago from Sweden was long and physically taxing. After planning my mother’s service and taking care of her estate, I decided to rejoin my cast for the last 6 weeks of our tour in the US.

After my tour finished, I traveled to other countries visiting my castmates from Up With People and eventually settled into a career as a teacher in Chicago. It wasn’t long before I landed a job as the Dean of Students at my alma mater; an all-girl high school on the south side of Chicago. My passion to empower girls and young women became even more evident.

Even as a school administrator in Chicago, I decided to connect with the large Swedish population in my hometown. I joined the Swedish American Chamber of Commerce, and became a volunteer at the Swedish American Museum. Since I knew that I had hoped to one day hoped to live in Sweden, I applied for a scholarship with the American Swedish Institute to research bullying in multi-cultural schools in Sodertalje, Sweden.

So, in August of 2011 I moved to Sweden for one year to perform research in schools in Sodertalje about bullying among 6th grade girls. Additionally, I spent the year working on my recently published book: Ten Lessons My Mother Taught Me Before She Died, which is dedicated to “girls” without mothers.

Initially, it took me a while to adjust to the idea that I was taking more than just a vacation to Sweden, but actually living there. It was quite an adjustment for me, but living in a Swedish host family helped make the transition a lot less stressful. Admittedly, I was not used to living a “green life”, but even now, I am a lot less wasteful than I was before I moved to Sweden. I am must move environmentally friendly. I grew to appreciate the Swedes appreciation for the environment.

In Chicago I wasn’t used to taking public transportation everywhere, so in Sweden I would get lost at least twice week: especially if I was going to Stockholm. My Swedish friends still joke with me about how horrible my sense of direction can be.

There were adjustments that did not frustrate me as much, like being able to take a “fika” or coffee break in the middle of meetings and even church service. The dress code at school was much more relaxed than in the USA which helped with my level of stress and anxiety. I did not feel as constrained. Actually as a Lupus patient, I was happy that I spent much of the year there without experiencing many symptoms of the disease. I was able to better under the health care system in Sweden as a patient who received amazing care from doctors who communicated about my status regularly. As an American I wish that we could adopt a similar method of healthcare.

I hated to leave Sweden, but was so happy that I had the opportunity to return to a country that means so much to me. Organizations like the American Women’s Club of Stockholm provided me with friends that I still keep in contact with today. Perhaps one day I will return Sweden to live permanently, but for now I remain connected here in Chicago to the Swedish American Chamber of Commerce and the Swedish American Museum. Most of all, I try to practice speaking and writing Swedish as much as possible. Jag hoppas att jag ska aldrig glomma Svenska.

Faith Elle 5 19 2013 10 1024x1024 Lessons learned: From my mother and while living in Sweden

Ms. Faith Elle is a life coach, providing life coaching services to girls and women. Her company Faith Elle Enterprises also conducts workshops for youth and staff development in schools. Faith is currently an adjunct faculty member at Harry S Truman College, where she teaches College Success, an interdisciplinary class which prepares students to matriculate through the collegiate pipeline. She is a noted speaker, author and global citizen: to date she has traveled to 25 countries on five continents. Faith is a girls advocate and expert. The product of an all-girl school and a lifetime member of Girl Scouts of the USA.

In 2010, Faith was diagnosed with, Lupus, a chronic auto-immune disease which can affect the entire body. In order to raise awareness, Faith has committed to donating ten percent of all this book’s proceeds to Lupus research. Her book: Ten Lessons My Mother Taught Me before She Died is dedicated to “girls” without mothers worldwide.

Editor’s note: Faith’s fee for writing this article was donated to an organization dedicated to Lupus research, in her name.

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Gloria Dixon-Svärd – An American in Norrland

In a new series of articles, black women living in Europe share their views from the inside. In our sixth article, Gloria Dixon-Svärd traded her dreams of being a diplomat for a life way up north. 

So what made a big city girl like me venture off to a small town way up in the north of Sweden and stay there for 19 years and become a “Norrlänning”? Well I suppose this question can’t be answered in one short story since there are so many factors which play a part. Some have to do with the person I was before coming to Sweden and the rest has to do with experiencing Sweden as a new arrival in the north. I had a lot of the quietness that is the stereotype of most people from the north and I simply fit right in.

hqdefault Gloria Dixon Svärd   An American in Norrland

My first encounter with Sweden was back in 1974 when I came as an exchange student to small town outside of Katrineholm. That doesn’t say much for those who don’t know Sweden but at that time Katrineholm probably had a population of about 20,000 as opposed to Washington DC’s over 700,000. The fact that I had fallen so deeply in love with a Swedish exchange student at my school the year before had a lot to do with it. Still, in my junior year I had expected to study abroad in Paris. I was very focused on becoming a diplomat and working at the US State Department so an international experience was mandatory. The romance with the Swede and contact with Sweden became a big plus in my quest for international knowledge. When I got to Sweden I simply fell in love with the country – its simplicity, the standard of living; the people, one couldn’t help but love the country. It was the closest thing to a “Utopia” which I had read so much about in my history and political science classes during the 70’s. But that’s another story.

BodenSunseta Gloria Dixon Svärd   An American in Norrland

The years came and went. I finished a 2 year visit in Sweden and went back home to become the diplomat I thought was my destiny. It didn’t happen! I continued to vacation in Sweden and on one such vacation I met my future husband who just so happened to be from a small northern town called Boden. I could write an entire article to describe my encounter with Boden and the north. In terms of “area” Boden’s Kommun is a very big town comprised of several small, neighboring towns. Up until the late 90’s Boden was Sweden’s northern most strategic, security point of protection. And yes, my husband like so many other men who lived in Boden worked for the military. So in the spring of 1979 I was living a life I never thought was possible: married and living in northern Sweden. Boden is a beautiful town in the summer. Like Stockholm it is a city on water but without the stress and the masses. I was now in the land of the midnight sun and it was truly an experience to find oneself up at midnight wondering when you would get tired. That comes at the price of November and December when there is approximately 3 hours of daylight! But there was something very exotic about that contrast which enthralled me for about 10 years. Experiencing the northern lights for the first time, Wow! I considered myself enlightened back then but I had never heard of the northern lights until I found myself on a dark, lonely road on my way home one night. Mine was the only car for miles around and the lights suddenly appeared in the sky, dancing as they say in the north in all its magnificence. I was terrified! I was sure that I was experiencing an encounter with the unknown. This is before mobile phones so I was “ALONE” and scared in every sense of the word.

Aurora borealis Gloria Dixon Svärd   An American in Norrland

Northern Lights

In the north you find yourself living in wait of the return of spring and the new life waiting around the corner.  Still, Boden turned out to be my door into the world of international business. As an American I was quite unique for that part of the country so I can truly say that I was a novelty in the right place at the right time. And I was a novelty because I was American, black, female in high heels and skirts, spoke not only Swedish and English but I also possessed at the time a working knowledge of French which was exactly what was needed for the job I secured. I was in charge of all the international contacts with both customers, suppliers and several sister companies around the world. So my studies of diplomacy came in handy after all.

My husband, son, daughter and I moved to Stockholm in 1998 as my son had just started to become a person to reckon with in track and field and the opportunities in the north were not many. We wanted him to have the best possibility to fulfill his dreams and I would come closer to an international scene and maybe work for the Swedish government. The job with the Swedish government didn’t happen, but I work for another international company and my life is here. My husband passed away 5 years ago but my son and daughter and granddaughter are within reach. They mean the world to me which is why I am still in Sweden. Yes I think about moving home but I have lived here longer now than I have lived in the US. I have become European and I don’t know how I would fit in to American society, trying to go back to being the American I once was after the exposure to a life in Sweden! Not just a Swedish experience but a European experience!!

Gloria 300x195 Gloria Dixon Svärd   An American in Norrland

Gloria Dixon-Svärd was born and raised in Washington, DC. She moved to Sweden 34 years ago where she married, had two children and became a grandmother. Instead of becoming the US diplomat she dreamed of she built a career working for International companies in northern Sweden and Stockholm.

In our next article Erica Smith-Escassut found a way to feed her spirit in France.

pixel Gloria Dixon Svärd   An American in Norrland

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