Category Archives: People

Reading and book signing in New York with popular Swedish crime writer Camilla L?kberg

MANY AMERICANSany Americans and other nationalities are very familiar with Swedish thriller writer Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy and the movies based on his trilogy. But there is another Swedish crime writer Camilla L?kberg (, who also has a very strong following internationally.

MS. L?kberg – who is one of Sweden’s youngest successful female writers in her genre, crime novels, and sixth bestselling novelist in Europe, ahead of both Henning Mankell and John Grisham - will be at The Swedish Church in New York for a reading, followed by Q&A and book signing on Monday, March 28, 2011, at 7 p.m.

SHE IS IN the U.S. to promote the release of the first book in her three book trilogy – “The Ice Princess” - will become available in paperback. She has been a #1 bestselling writer in France, Spain and Italy, and in all of Scandinavia. In Sweden, a country of only 9 million people, she has sold 3 million copies, and she is the most profitable native author in Swedish history. Worldwide she has sold more than 7 million copies in 25 languages.

FREE PRESS AND Pocket Books will publish simultaneous trade and mass market editions on March 29, 2011. Then in May 2011, Pegasus will publish “The Preacher” - the second book in L?kberg’s trilogy.

SWEDISH SEAMEN’S Church, Inc. ( and is located at 5 East 48th Street (between Madison and 5th Ave.). The event is presented by The Swedish Church in New York and Free Press/Simon & Schuster, Inc.


The Swedish School for Language and Culture in Vienna, Virginia, celebrates its First Year Anniversary

A few of the students, teachers and parents at the schoolA few of the students, teachers and parents at the school

THE SWEDISH School for Language and Culture in Vienna, Virginia, began its second school year on Saturday, September 11. After class, new and returning students, parents, and teachers celebrated their school’s first anniversary with traditional Swedish cake decorated with strawberries and cream.

THE STUDENTS seemed to thoroughly enjoy their recess in the beautiful fall weather and a couple of parents led them in a quick game of field hockey. All meetings at the school end with a 30-minute gathering of students and their families.

The school's founders Lena Unander-Scharin and Carina OlssonThe school’s founders Lena Unander-Scharin and Carina Olsson

THIS FIRST MEETING of the year was spent sharing memories of the summer. The students, ages 5 to 17, were able to use their Swedish skills within the group. There were stories about flea market bargains in Sk?e (a region in southern Sweden), meetings with dolphins in Florida and bearded horses in Iceland, and other exciting stories.

FOR MORE pictures and information, visit

First year anniversary celebrationFirst year anniversary celebration

Zahra Bayati is awarded the 2010 Agneta and Gunnar Nilsson scholarship for studies in intercultural relations

Zahra Bayati

Zahra Bayati

DURING SWEA’s (Swedish Women’s Educational Association) annual Sweden dinner in Malm?, August 12, Zahra Bayati will receive the 2010 Agneta and Gunnar Nilsson scholarship for studies in intercultural relations.

MS. BAYATI is a Ph.D. student at Gothenburg University and is working on her dissertation “Construction and reconstruction of ethnicity in the teaching education from a intercultural perspective and its consequences for a lasting societal development.” She was born in Tehran, Iran, but came to Sweden with her son in 1987.

Sabine St?lting receives SWEA International’s literature scholarship

Sabine St?lting

Sabine St?lting

SABINE St?lting, who is a Ph.D.-student at the university of Freiburg in southern Germany, has been awarded SWEA (Swedish Women’s Educational Foundation) International’s scholarship for research in the Swedish language, literature and society. She will use the $10,000 scholarship to conduct research on 19th-century Swedish straight plays and music.

Shima Niavarani receives Sigrid Paskell’s Scholarship 2010 from SWEA International

Shima Niavarani

Shima Niavarani

SWEA (Swedish Women’s Educational Association) has awarded Sigrid Paskell’s Scholarship 2010 to Shima Niavarani, a real phenomenon in the Swedish theater scene. The 10,000 USD scholarship is awarded annually to an artist in the field of singing, dance, theater and instrumental music, who is in the beginning of his or her career.

MS. NIAVARANI, who has shown an extraordinary sense of creative ideas, production and stage presence, came to Sweden from Iran when she was 4 years old. And now, 20 years later, she is one of the most talented and versatile actresses in the country. A few years ago, she showed her strength with her own production “Shima Niavarani ? en ?ermensch,” in which she showed her musicality and the support of “all those who feel fat, excluded and dumb.” She has sung opera for several years, created characters such as Queen Christina and Gilda, has had eight premieres during two years at Upsala municipal theater, and has been widely acclaimed for her work.

Dr. Anders ?lund speaks about “The Current Situation in Russia and What It Means for Sweden” at a SACU luncheon in Washington

Ingrid Beach and Dr. Anders ?lund

Ingrid Beach and Dr. Anders ?lund

“THE CURRENT SITUATION in Russia and What It Means for Sweden” was the topic of a SACU (Swedish American Cultural Union) luncheon with Dr. Anders ?lund as the speaker on Thursday, May 27.

DR. ?lund, who is a Senior Fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics and Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University, spoke about the current social, political and economic situation in Russia and the implications that these circumstances have for Swedish foreign policy. He is a respected expert in the economics of Russia and central and eastern Europe, and has served as an economic adviser to the governments of Russia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan.

Dr. Anders ?lund

Dr. ?lund presents his new book – “Russia after the Global Economic Crisis.”

Theater Manager Kjerstin Dellert “Woman of the Year”

Kjerstin Dellert. Photo: Kerstin Alm.

Kjerstin Dellert. Photo: Kerstin Alm.

KJERSTIN DELLERT, theater manager of Ulriksdal Palace Theater or Confidencen near Stockholm, has received the award “The Woman of The Year 2010″ by SWEA (Swedish Women’s Educational Association) International. She is being honored for her extensive work for this historical Swedish palace theater, which otherwise would have been forgotten. The Woman of the Year-award will be presented at SWEA’s yearly Sweden dinner August 12. Since 1989 18 Swedish women – who in different ways have been “ambassadors” for Sweden received the honor ?ets Svenska Kvinna (Woman of the Year).

KJERSTIN Dellert, who has been a force internationally in the cultural life, rediscovered Confidencen in 1981 two years after she retired from a successful career as an opera singer. She started her singing career at Stora Teatern (The Grand Theater) in Gothenburg, before joining the Royal Opera in Stockholm, where she worked for 25 years. She also toured extensively, with performances in Oslo, Copenhagen, Helsinki, London, Moscow, Warsaw, Hamburg, Bremen, Frankfurt, Munich, Basel, Montreux, Siena, Edinburgh and Montreal, among other places. Kjerstin Dellert has previously received several honors, for example Illis Quorum and Royal Musical Academy’s gold medal.

ADDITIONALLY to the work with Ulriksdal Palace Theater or Confidencen, she has also produced a training film, which can be used in old-age care.

CONFIDENCEN is part of the Ulriksdal Palace estate; one of the five official residences of the Swedish Royal Family.

Swea founder Agneta Nilsson nominated for prestigious Ellis Island medal

Kate Novak; Agneta Nilsson, who will receive the 2010 Ellis Island Medal of Honor; Eva Hafstr?m, wife of the Swedish ambassador to the U.S.; and Anne Marie McGowan at a reception at the House of Sweden, which started the SWEA World Meeting in Washington,

Kate Novak; Agneta Nilsson, who will receive the 2010 Ellis Island Medal of Honor; Eva Hafstr?m, wife of the Swedish ambassador to the U.S.; and Anne Marie McGowan at a reception at the House of Sweden, which started the SWEA World Meeting in Washington, D.C. in 2009.

AGNETA NILSSON, the founder of the Swedish Women’s Educational Association (SWEA) (, is set to receive the 2010 Ellis Island Medal of Honor. The medal is awarded by the National Ethnic Coalition and Mrs. Nilsson will join the roster of distinguished American citizens who have already received this honor. The Ellis Island Medals of Honor was established in 1986 and pays tribute to the ancestry groups that comprise America’s unique cultural mosaic. Both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives recognize the Ellis Island Medal of Honor as one of the United States’ most prestigious awards.

THE MEDAL WILL BE presented on Saturday, May 8, at a ceremony on Ellis Island in New York harbor. The event, in which all branches of the United States Armed Forces traditionally participate, is full of pageantry, grandeur and emotion. Dancers in their native costume add to the international flavor of the celebration. A gala dinner in the historic Great Hall on Ellis Island follows the moving ceremony. As a grand finale, a majestic fireworks display illuminates the sky and America’s symbol of freedom, the Statue of Liberty.

Agneta Nilsson (to the right) together with photographer Kerstin Alm at the SWEA World Meeting in Washington, D.C. in 2009.

Agneta Nilsson (to the right) together with photographer Kerstin Alm at the SWEA World Meeting in Washington, D.C. in 2009.

THE MEDALS ARE awarded to U.S. citizens from various ethnic backgrounds who exemplify outstanding qualities in both their personal and professional lives, while continuing to preserve the richness of their particular heritage. Since NECO’s founding in 1986, more than 1,700 American citizens have received Ellis Islands Medal of Honor, including six American Presidents, several United States senators, Congressmen, Nobel Laureates, outstanding athletes, artists, clergy and military leaders. Mrs. Nilsson will be the third woman born in Sweden to receive the medal.

THE FOUNDING OF the National Ethnic Coalition was based on the conviction of its founders that the diversity of the American people is what makes the nation great. Its mission is to honor and preserve this diversity and to foster tolerance, respect and understanding among religious and ethnic groups.

FROM 1890 until 1954, Ellis Island was the gateway through which more than 12 million immigrants passed in their quest for freedom of speech, religion and economic opportunity. The Ellis Island Medals of Honor celebrate the richness and diversity of American life, honoring not only individuals, but the pluralism and democracy that have enabled the country’s ancestry groups to maintain their identities while becoming integral parts of the American Way of life.

MRS. NILSSON founded SWEA, Swedish Women’s Educational Association International, Inc. SWEA is a nonprofit global network with more than 8,000 members in 74 chapters across 34 countries. SWEA is the largest Swedish organization outside Swedish with the purpose to protect the Swedish language and provide information about the Swedish culture and traditions. Each year SWEA awards scholarships totaling about $300,000.

Svenska skolan f?r spr? och kultur – new Swedish School in the Washington Metropolitan area

Carina Olsson and Lena Unander-Scharin

Carina Olsson and Lena Unander-Scharin

IN SEPTEMBER, Carina Olsson and Lena Unander-Scharin started a new Swedish school in the Washington area. Called “Svenska skolan f?r spr? och kultur (The Swedish School for Language and Culture),” it is located in the northern Virginia area, close to the Beltway.

“WE HAVE worked together for almost eight years, and we have a mutual commitment to education,” says Lena.

ADDITIONALLY, the two educators have been influenced by Maria Borgstr?m, who is in charge of Intercultural Pedagogic at S?dert?rns H?gskola (S?dert?rn University). Borgstr?m advocates, not just the language, but also intercultural identity.

“I FEEL THAT as a professional, I got an extended education with Borgstr?m,” adds Lena. “It is our vision it is important in language education that the students learn. But at the same time they should be able to enjoy the process of learning, and their parents should be involved.”

Svenska skolan f?r spr? och kultur

THE SCHOOL HAS classes on Saturday mornings, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The classes end with a 30-minute gathering at 12 noon, with singing, cultural activities and games, where the parents and siblings are welcome to participate. “Language and cultural identity are interchangeable, and Swedish traditions such as Santa Lucia will be celebrated,” Carina says.

“WE ALREADY have a good group of students between the ages of 6 to 18 years, and gradually we expect more students to enroll at the school. We have also attracted excellent teachers, who will give continuity in the education, which is critical for the different age groups,” says Lena.

THERE ARE about 4,000 Swedes or Swedish-speaking people in the metropolitan Washington area, and the need or demand for Swedish language instruction is prevalent throughout the area as Swedes, their children and descendants of Swedish immigrants seek to connect to their ancestral culture.

Svenska skolan f?r spr? och kultur

BOTH CARINA AND LENA emphasize the parental involvement in the process of learning Swedish. “The process is as important as the result.” So far there are four teachers, and the parents are very involved. Next year, the goal is to start a pre-school class, however no adult classes are planned. Currently, the school also offers private lessons for both Swedish-speaking students and people who want to learn Swedish as a foreign language. These private lessons are offered for both children and adults, individually or in small groups.

Svenska skolan f?r spr? och kultur

IN ADDITION to Swedish language, other subjects are being taught, including social studies, history and geography. Additionally, there are outdoors activities.

LENA IS responsible for the curriculum. “I am in touch with teachers in Sweden to get advice on good books and teaching material,” she says. Lena and Carina also continue to attend education conferences in the United States, and they have exchanges with their peers and colleagues who are engaged in Swedish language education in the United States.

“CHILDREN USUALLY don’t want to be different, and language schools tend to be on Saturdays when other children are off. But when they realize that other children in the area speak Swedish, or learn Swedish, then it is easier for them,” says Carina.

BOTH LENA AND CARINA have lived in the Washington area for a long time. Carina came to the area in 1986, and Lena about 10 years ago. Lena is an elementary teacher, and she taught Swedish as a second language in Rinkeby and Husby, outside Stockholm, and in the Stockholm area of Kungsholmen. She has a long pedagogic experience with children from multilingual background. She has also been active teaching Swedish in the Washington area the last eight years.

CARINA HAS a bachelor’s degree (fil. kand. in Swedish) in linguistics and has studied Spanish. She lived with her American husband in Sweden for a several years, which gave her a good insight how Swedish is being taught to immigrants there. Carina has worked at the International Center at Georgetown University for 10 years.

THE SVENSKA SKOLVERKET, the Swedish school authority, financially supports Swedish education abroad, with some requirements. For instance the support doesn’t come until after one year and an evaluation. The authority also requires that at least one parent of each student enrolled is a Swedish citizen.

“IT IS A LOT of work, but very interesting and challenging to start something like this from the beginning,” says Carina.

FOR MORE information about the school, visit

Swedish-born Californian Kerstin Shirokow wrote a book about her adventurous life – ‘Confessions of a Swedish Girl’

Agneta Nilsson, founder of SWEA, and Kerstin Shirokow

Agneta Nilsson, founder of SWEA (Swedish Women’s Education Association) and Kerstin Shirokow

“I LOVE SANTA BARBARA. I have lived here for over 40 years now, and have taught at the University of California, Santa Barbara and Santa Barbara City College for over 35 years,” says Swedish-born Kerstin Shirokow, who grew up Kerstin Hård af Segerstad, in Eskilstuna, Sweden, a little industrial town in the central part of the country.

IN 2007 Kerstin published stories from her life in English, “Confessions of a Swedish Girl”, which chronicle the story of a free spirited, curious and adventurous Swede, and her travels around the world. “The book took about a year to finish. I wanted to write it because I have had so much fun in my life which I wanted to share with others, and also be an inspiration to young women to ‘go for it.’ To live and work in a foreign country gives you so much more than just to visit as a tourist.”

SINCE THEN she has translated the book into Swedish, and hopes to find a publisher for the Swedish version.

SHE SAYS that her life in California is quite pleasant.

“I SWIM EVERY day, have picnics and walk on the beach. From May 20th to September it is warm enough to swim in the ocean. But I also travel abroad a lot, and came back from my summer vacation in Sweden recently.”
She was also a columnist, “Montecito Matron,” for the local paper Montecito Journal, for nearly five years in the late 1990s. When she first arrived in the United States in the 1950s, she wrote articles about her American experiences for her home town newspaper, Eskilstuna -Kuriren

Kerstin Shirokow and family

Kerstin Shirokow and family

KERSTIN Shirokow’s daughter Katya produces wild life movies for television all over the world. Her son Mike was tragically killed in a car accident about 20 years ago.

“I GO TO SWEDEN every summer and visit my sister,” says Kerstin. She is also active in what she calls “the wonderful organization SWEA” (Swedish Women’s Educational Association). We are about 30 members in Santa Barbara, and we meet about once a month and have a great time. I know other
Swedes as well. My niece and her daughter live here, and we see each other frequently.”
She adds that she sometimes misses Swedish food, although some of it is available at IKEA, such as the Swedish children’s favorite “Kalles Kaviar,” as well as “kokosbollar” and Swedish shrimp.

Kerstin Shirokow

Kerstin Shirokow

KERSTIN GREW up in a conservative and protective environment. “In Eskilstuna, I first attended a public grammar school for four years,”says Kerstin, who had three siblings, two older brothers and a sister. In 1946 she graduated from Eskilstuna Högre Allmänna Läroverk after studying at the school for eight years. “I studied German for eight years, English for five and French for four years.”

KERSTIN’S FATHER was an army officer and head of the town’s arms factory. He was forced to retire at the age of 50 as a major. This put the family in a rather difficult situation financially, and Kerstin’s mother had to start to work to make ends meet, since her father’s pension was not enough to support four school children. “I am sure it was difficult for my mother. She was a general’s daughter and had never worked to earn a living.”

KERSTIN ALSO talks about her special childhood memory of when she fell through the glass ceiling of the department store Epa, once a very familiar chain of stores.

“A FRIEND and I were playing on a yard in the middle of which there was a house, the object of which was to protect Epa’s glass ceiling, which was there to let light into the store. And it was, of course, built of glass.It had a little window, which was open one day and naturally I crawled in. I took a couple of steps on the glass ceiling — and it broke! I fell down and landed on the counter for underwear and stockings.”

WHEN THE SALES girl saw Kerstin, she fainted, and since it was rush hour, a whole lot of people gathered around her. Kerstin looked up and saw her friend’s frightened face in the hole in the ceiling. An old man came forward and said: “That was the funniest thing I have seen in a long time,” and gave Kerstin a two-crown coin. Some employees came and carried Kerstin up to an office, bandaged her legs, which were bleeding from cuts. The local newspaper, Eskilstuna-Kuriren, covered the story without mentioning any names.

“MY MOTHER, who had been to Stockholm, came home the next day and had read about the incident during the train ride. When my father met her at the train station, she said: “What a terrible thing! Imagine that parents don’t look after their children better! The poor child could have been killed. Do you know who it was? I would like to call the parents and let them know what I think!”
“No need to do that, my dear, I know who it is.”
“You do? Who?”
“It is your own child, dear!”

WHEN THE SECOND WORLD WAR broke out, Kerstin’s father returned to the army. And she, herself, became a so called “airplane spotter” during the summer months before graduation.

“THAT IS SOMETHING that I shall never forget. We were 10 girls between 15 and 17 years old (there’s a photo of them in “Confessions of a Swedish Girl” ), and we stood in a tower 24/7, reporting allied and German planes that crossed Swedish airspace. We telephoned their nationality, altitude, direction and speed to a central office, and then Swedish air force planes were sent out to try to get them to leave the country’s territory. This was done in order to prevent them from shooting down each other over
Swedish territory.”

IN ESKILSTUNA, as in most of Sweden at the time, almost nobody owned a car. Kerstin’s parents certainly didn’t and very few of their friends. “You walked, took the bus or the train.” It was a different society, with a pronounced class structure: working class, middle class and upper class, not the least in the education system.

“SWEDEN WAS not enough for me – and I soon realized that I wanted to see the rest of the world, just like my Aunt Elsa, who had traveled a lot. And to do so, I would have to learn foreign languages. I studied English, as major, and minors in French and Spanish at the Stockholm University and received the equivalent of an M.A. But I also realized that one had to live in the countries to be fluent in languages, not just be a tourist. To improve my English skills, I took a job in London as ʻa mother’s helperʼ (au pairs had not been invented yet). To practice French I took care of children in Oyonnax, a small town in southern France. Having learnt English and French that way, I figured I could teach it, so I became a governess in Spain.”

KERSTIN IS STILL in contact with the children she taught there, and their children have come to visit her in the United States.

“BUT AMERICA was my dream! I wanted to see America. With my three foreign languages, I thought that I could easily get a scholarship at an American college. So I applied to Harvard, Yale and Princeton.!”
But Kerstin didn’t get any scholarships, and mentions that those universities only accepted males in those years.

“SINCE I HAD boasted to everybody that I was going to America, it was, of course, very embarrassing. But I was lucky. I heard about a small college in Illinois, Augustana College in Rock Island, where they wanted a Swedish teacher!:
“I had never heard of the college, and neither of Illinois, for that matter! But I applied, got the job, and I taught there for one year.”

Kerstin Shirokow

Kerstin Shirokow

“BUT I WANTED to go to California! California with its palm trees, Hollywood and stars like Tyrone Power, and the Pacific, had always been my dream. So when I heard that the Army Language School in Monterey, California, was looking for a Swedish-language teacher for army soldiers and officers, I applied and got the job. At the school, I met a Russian teacher, fell in love with him, we got married and had two children.”
With her husband George, who became employed by the CIA, she lived in Japan for seven years and in Italy for three. In 1967, the couple returned to California.