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International Exchange Project Rome-Stockholm 2014 - 2015

By Tao Wang
«Det svenska samhällets internationalisering och den växande rörligheten över nations gränserna ställer höga krav på människors förmåga att leva med och inse de värden som ligger i en kulturell mångfald. Medvetenhet om det egna och delaktighet i det gemensamma kulturarvet ger en trygg identitet som är viktig att utveckla tillsammans med förmågan att förstå och leva sig in i andras villkor och värderingar.» (Lgr 11, s. 7)

One of the aims of the Modern Languages Department at Internationella Engelska Gymnasiet is to create an awareness of cultural differences via languages, which reflect the rich variety of traditions, historical events, evolutions of principles and ideals. Differences stimulate a personal reflection about who we are and how we are. This is why we believe that giving the opportunity to our students to live an intercultural experience can encourage international understanding and the awareness of sharing common values.

Our exchange program with the Italian High School Convitto Nazionale Vittorio Emanuele in Rome is a way of reaching this significant goal. The program is developed over two weeks during which Swedes and Italians are immersed in a different context: they live with an Italian/Swedish family, they go to an Italian/Swedish school, they follow an ordinary day with their Italian/Swedish partner and reflect about similarities and differences. At the end our students have the opportunity to think about their own identity as Swedes in Sweden, as Swedes in Italy, as Swedes in Europe and as Europeans in Europe.

«The exchange did indeed help me to become more conscious about the cultural differences that exist between two European countries. Especially because I had the chance to live with an Italian family and visit an Italian school. I reflected about the food and people’s independence.» Eleonora Forsman, SPD3F.
«It helped to understand a completely different lifestyle other than the one I live, and the only one I know.» Natalie Gustafsson, SPA3D.

Our exchange program also gives the chance to discover a foreign country in a more intimate way: entering in an Italian family and following their habits generates cultural clashes that the students have to deal with. Following Italian codes in the communication process awakens the ability to manage how we express our ideas and reinforces self-confidence.

«The funniest moment arrived when we started to get to know the Italians; it was great fun when we could actually talk and do things all together. Then I really enjoyed visiting Rome and the buildings etc. Then living with the Italian family and experiencing the life was just one of other great things during this trip.» Don Lee, SPD2F.

Students reflected also about how their prejudices can cause unnecessary worries:

«I truly enjoyed all the time we spent together after the compulsory school hours. I also liked the team building game when Italians dared to try Swedish food without knowing what it was and could not see how it looked like.» Melissa Öztürk, NV2C.

And of course, this exchange program encourages new friendships, social interaction and improves linguistic skills in Italian and English:

«I have made some new friends for life, both Italians but also with some other students from IEGS that I would have never got to know if it had not been for this exchange.» Eleonora Forsman, SPD3F.

The exchange project concluded with the interesting visit to Moderna Museet with a particular reflection about Meriç Algün Ringborg’s exhibition: what is the meaning of being European? What is necessary to feel European? And how cultural, linguistic and bureaucratic diversities cause limitations which can be difficult to overcome.


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