Shalom and hej, Ayal. Tell the readers a little bit about yourself.
My professional background is in Psychology and Information Technology. I’m leading international training, development and change management department for a global company in Israel. I lived in San Francisco for 15 years and moved back to Israel in 2009. I now live in Tel Aviv.
When did this interest for Sweden begin? And how? Was it always there or did something in particular happen?
I was first introduced to the Swedish language when I was very young, around four years old, when my parents played ABBA’s music in Swedish. My first Swedish song called ”Hej Gamle Man” (Hello Old Man) sounded like a melody to me and I started repeating the words over and over pretending to speak the language. That was all my world at age four. Throughout the years I got closer to the Swedish language, music and culture and made pen-pal friends who are still my friends today. Few years ago, I wanted to deepen my connection to Sweden so I accumulated Swedish contacts both at the political level and among Swedish and diplomatic personnel from Sweden’s embassies abroad.
What exactly is it about Sweden that you fancy so much? And do you have any favourite places in Sweden?
There are many things I adore about Sweden and one of them is the quality of life, the culture, the music and the friendly people. One of my favorite places to visit is Gamla Stan, Stockholm. I would love to visit the very north part of Sweden which I’ve never been as of yet.
How many times have you visited?
I stopped counting after 5… :-)
Have you studied Swedish or did you learn the language by yourself?
Both. I had Swedish teachers in San Francisco and in Israel. I kept practicing Swedish by listening to Swedish songs, reading the lyrics and repeating the words until I could pronounce and understand them completely.
How does your family and friends react to this ”hobby” of yours?
Sweden is not a hobby for me. Growing up with Swedish music, language, and culture made it natural and normal to me throughout the years. I am blessed with a very supportive family. In ”The Swedish Way” event my folks came over to help arrange everything and even wrap the 200 ”Lussekatter” I’ve baked for the party. My friends and my co-workers knows what Sweden means for me. I even have a Swedish flag hanging in my office at work. I do get a bit tired though, when people are repeatedly asking why do I love Sweden so much. It takes time to explain but I conclude and ask them ”Can you describe music? Why do you like one type of music vs. the other?” Their answer is ”I love this music because I just love it”. Well, same with me and Sweden – ”I love Sweden, because I love Sweden”, it is what it is.
Is there something you don’t like about Sweden?
The long winters and sometimes I wish that people would be more spontaneous and not too uptight. :-)
How was your event and how did you decide to throw this Swedish party? Are you happy with the outcome?
I appreciate the Swedish innovation, culture, food, and music. I wanted to bring it into Israel. I wanted to share this with people. It all started few months ago while preparing for my birthday. I wanted to cook Swedish food, invite few close friends over and celebrate it. My friends suggested that instead of dinner, I should do something with all my friends. I then created an event for ”The Swedish Way” party and immediately within one week I got over 50 people signed up (and they weren’t even my friends). Few more weeks passed by and I got 175 people RSVP’d for the event. I started panicking as my home couldn’t fit so many people. I rented a place, prepared a presentation, and formed a team to help me manage everything. I took the day off on the event day, baked Lussekatter and served Glögg at the entrance (so people experience a bit of authentic Swedish food). The event was a hit, a great success, people said they were happy, met new people and didn’t realize there were many Swedish people living in Israel. One of the highlights of the evening was that the Swedish embassy came to the event as well and gave a speech to start the evening with. I presented ”The Swedish Way” presentation and we danced until late. The result was that I created an awareness and a space for people to get together as a community and celebrate a bit of ”The Swedish Way”.
Yes! I do actually. I love to cook and invite people over. I write a cooking blog in Hebrew, I write my own recipes and hope that people read it. I eat healthy and keep in shape by jogging and swimming.
What are you wishing yourself for the future?
I want to work for a Swedish company or Israeli company that does business in Sweden, perfect my Swedish, and have kids.
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