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Opening borders through cooking and discussion

In the newly-started mentor group LIKES, international and Swedish teaching students gather, with their profession and their training as common denominators. Among other things, it has arranged discussion and cooking evenings.

LiU student Amanda Ekeleund. Small photo: Swedish and international students cooking together.
LiU student Amanda Ekelund is one of the initiators of a new international group for teaching students. Small photo: Swedish and international students cooking together.

Just over ten teaching students have gathered this evening to discuss gender issues and the Swedish concept of “hen” (a gender-neutral pronoun). Anna Lisa Kopeinig, a teaching student from Austria, had heard of a Swedish “hen pre-school”, and proposed this as a subject for discussion.

“LIKES has very good events, we can be part of deciding what we are to do and what we are to discuss. As we do not do courses together with Swedish students, this is a good way of making contact with Swedes.”

Kelly Neppelenbroek, a teaching student from the Netherlands, agrees:

“In LIKES, people are interested in contacts with international students. I wanted to study here, because the Swedish school system is so good. Outdoor pedagogics, for example, does not exist in the Netherlands. Therefore it was interesting for me to visit a Swedish elementary school to see what they do outdoors. You just have to ask, and LIKES will arrange it.”

LIKES stands for Linköping International Knights of Educational Science, and was started by a group of teaching students who wanted to do more than just act as mentors. Previous research has shown that it can be difficult for international students to make contact with Swedes.

LIKES is a way of changing this. Amanda Ekelund is studying to become an upper secondary school teacher in social sciences and Swedish, and is one of the initiators.

“We started last winter with a cookery evening. All the 30 international teaching students took part, we cooked meatballs and had a quiz in order to get to know each other. We have also visited a Swedish elementary school, eaten in the school canteen and looked at after-school care. For many of the international students, these things were unheard of.”

But the agenda consists primarily of discussion evenings. About twice a month, they meet up to discuss subjects relating to the teaching profession.

“The international students are grateful and think that the arrangements are fun,” says Amanda Ekelund. “The difficult bit is to get the Swedes to take part. But in this way you get contacts for life, an international perspective on the training and a sneak peek at what it’s like to study abroad.”

Text: Elisabet Wahrby
Photo: Charlotte Perhammar

LiU magazine no.2, 2014
5 June 2014

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Last updated: 2017-02-13