The project Mentor to Mentor succeeds in melting ice between Swedes and immigrants
The Mentor to Mentor project of the Växjö Red Cross, has succeeded to melting the ice between immigrants and Swedes, and reduces the gap between them, through acquaintance, friendship and exchange of cultures. Mosaik met the Project Coordinator Elvira Skoglund, to know more details about the project. Elvira is a 25-year-old Swedish woman. She studied peace and development in Linnaeus University in Växjö and works with the Red Cross.
– Mentor to Mentor is a mutual exchange between individuals or families where newly arrived people gain increased opportunities for establishment and participation in the Swedish society. At the same time the Swedish-speaking mentors gains new perspectives and knowledge of other cultures. Your task as a mentor is to serve as a supportive person for people new to the society and to provide an insight into Swedish everyday life and thus increase the understanding of the Swedish culture. Elvira says.
What is the main objective of the project?
– The mentorships goals are: provide immigrants with better conditions for learning the language, expand the newly arrived persons social network and introducing them to corporate life as well as strengthen the mental and physical health of newly arrivals. Gain increased knowledge about how Swedish society with laws, structures, cultures and traditions. This gives them the opportunity to participate and thus gain more influence in the society. It also strengthens social cohesion and increases equality.
How many participate in the project?
– The project in Växjö started in 2011 and the mentorship usually goes on for around six months (aims to be for six months). Our hope is that the mentorships develop into a long-lasting friendship which has been quite common since we started this project. We have families that we match with other families. There are friends and groups that we match with one another and of course individuals that we help finding a match for. There are a great mix of mentors and we are always looking for new participants that want to be part of the project. During the projects period which goes on from the autumn of 2018 until the end of spring of 2019 we have 55 new mentors, since the beginning of the project in 2011 we have matched over hundreds.
How long the project will continue?
– Hopefully the project will continue for many more years to come, since the results from the mentors have been very positive and made a great difference.
What are the impressions of the beneficiaries of the project ?
– Our impressions among the newly arrived persons that we interact with are that they express a wish to meet a Swedish friend, to learn Swedish more quickly, understand Swedish society and explore new places in their new hometown. Established Swedes often want to get to know a person or a family from a different background and culture, but it is often quite hard to get these two parties to meet. Mentor to Mentor makes these meetings happen. Our impressions are that the project is very important for the mentors and that the mentors support and guide each other. They learn a lot from each other. If we talk about the impressions of the participants are all positive and many of them consider the project a good opportunity to get acquainted with friends, practice Swedish language and the exchange of cultures. This promotes the actual integration.
Are there other projects in Red Cross which help emigrants and reinforce integration?
– The Red Cross is an organization that operates worldwide. If we look at the work of The Red Cross in Växjö, there are several projects that focus on emigrants, homework help and language cafés for example. We also have different projects for people seeking asylum, for instance, Swedish for beginners, cycle course, civic information and activities for health. Please contact us if you would like to be a volunteer or participate in our projects.