Hillevi, Monica, Ann Marie & Elizabeth 2013

Hillevi, Monica, Ann Marie & Elizabeth 2013

classmates in 1980

classmates in 1980

Graduation day 1980 in Ulricehamn

Graduation day 1980 in Ulricehamn

The most wonderful thing of this trip has been my reunions with my old friends. I can not express how wonderful the women I met 33 years ago were to my 18 year old self. Imagine never having been anywhere other than where family live. Then you get on a plane and end up in somewhere where you know no one and can’t speak the language. the only way I survived my year in Sweden was through the generosity of spirit of my friends. Elizabeth, Ann, Hillevy, Monica, Ditte, and my other classmates were wonderful. They did all the important things. They sat with me when I felt alone. They included me when activities were happening and made sure that I understood what was going on. They challenged me to learn and rise to occasions. These wonderful women were supportive when they didn’t have to and they were compassionate when they could. I was so lucky. The biggest blessing I had was the acceptance and support of Ann and Elizabeth. They were relentless in helping me learn to speak Swedish and they were supportive through true friendship. It was wonderful being back here again and relearning to speak Swedish. I loved that both Ann and Elizabeth fell so easily back into correcting my grammar and vocabulary. I realized after a few days that I was thinking in Swedish again and not translating from English. My experience affirms how strong their support was in that formative year.

My year in Sweden was so influential on my development as a person. I have constantly referenced my Swedish experiences over the years and the proof is that Dale actually knew some Swedish words before we got here. He was so supportive during this holiday as he listened to me get my language back and was so patient as he listened to what was going on despite understanding very little. I have been so blessed in the people who have chosen to care about me.

Elizabeth invited my classmates to a garden party on Sunday and we had a great day together. Ditte was sick and couldn’t come and I was sad to miss her. It was great to see Hillevi and Monica again. The reality of how small this world is was affirmed when Hillevi and I realized that we had both studied the work of Max van Mannen, a phenomenologist form Edmonton who is known worldwide. I studied with Prof. van Mannen and attended his lectures and struggled to understand what he meant. I was in awe of Hillevi for understanding what he was talking about in her second language. She is truly gifted.