We meet at Lars Göran’s house an unusually warm spring day in May. On the terrace the barbeque is on, and Lars Göran tells us that Khaldoun will serve food from the Syrian cuisine. A few minutes later a black car pulls up in front of the house, and out steps Khaldoun with a big smile on his face. The trunk opens and it is filled with food: kebab, a huge amount of hummus, cookies and strawberries. The strawberries he brought because he wanted to serve something Swedish: “Swedes love strawberries”, he explains with a playful look.
It is noticeable that Lars Göran and Khaldoun have been friends for quite some time – an instant warmth and comfort appears. Lars Göran’s wife arrives and embraces Khaldoun in a hug. One of Khaldoun’s most memorable moments with his Lars Göran is when he was invited to his and his wife’s home for the first time. They had lunch together, and Khaldoun now explains how he felt like home already that first time. Lars Göran remembers when he and Khaldoun got in touch for the very first time. It was an emotional phone call and Khaldoun almost cried out of joy on the other side of the phone, from the fact that he finally would get a Swedish friend.
I save the memory of the first invite to lunch with his family. He and his wife welcomed me openly.Khaldoun
We gather at the barbeque and Khaldoun explains what he needs to continue with the food. A plastic glove, a plate, someone to wash the skewers, everybody helps out. He has prepared kebab that will be cooked on the charcoal grill and when he starts it is clear that this is not his first time – the experience shines through. He explains that kebab is a feast meal in Syria, and that is why he cooks it today, since it’s a party.
Maybe it’s not that strange that the two buddies fit so well together? Both of them have a passionate interest in languages, communication and to, through the language, make themselves understood.
Khaldoun came to Sweden from Syria with his family during the spring of 2018. He received a tip about Kompis Sverige from his SFI-school (Svenska for Immigrants) and registered with the aim of finding someone to practice his Swedish with. In addition, he knew that his integration process would be supported by having someone who could guide him into the Swedish society. Lars Göran registered because he is of the opinion that meeting those who arrive in Sweden is his duty as someone born in Sweden. He explains that he has his own experiences of moving to a new country and that he knows how important it is to meet and speak with the people who are from this country. In retrospect he realizes that the friendship with Khaldoun has meant more to him than he ever could have expected.
During lunch, Lars Göran sometimes jumps in and corrects Khalodun’s grammatical mistakes. It’s a deal they have, and it’s appreciated by both of them. Khaldoun explains that he wants someone to tell him when he is not speaking grammatically correct, he wants to learn. And Lars Göran, with his interest in languages, wants to share his knowledge in the Swedish language. But even he explains how the friendship with Khaldoun has made him realize how difficult the Swedish language it is to learn.
To appreciate each other
Lars Göran describes Khaldoun’s good mood and optimism as some of his best features. He always keeps it going despite setbacks, and he faces everything with a positive mindset and a belief that things will always work out.
I have been reminded of the importance of never giving up, never loosing courage, and trying once more. That makes me happy.Lars Göran
Khaldoun appreciates Lars Göran’s pedagogic side and that he always explains everything very thoroughly. He describes him as incredibly kind and thoughtful, and as a very open and welcoming person.
Swedish art and unwritten rules
The two buddies talk a lot on the phone and through text message. On one occasion they met up at the National Museum in Stockholm. They share an interest in art and are both of the opinion that art is key to understand the Swedish mentality and history. Becoming a buddy has opened up Lars Göran’s eyes, making him realize how many unwritten rules the Swedes have. Things that we take for granted and comes so naturally that you can’t picture if from an outer perspective. He means that Khaldoun has helped him to widen his perspective and see himself through a new pair of eyes through which he tries to understand some of the unwritten rules.
Lars Göran explains why he thinks you should register to be a buddy. He thinks that the established Swedes have a duty to help people who arrive to Sweden, support them in entering the Swedish society and meet each other. And just like the meeting between Lars Göran and Khaldoun shows, we have so much to learn from each other.