A program that capitalizes on the positive energy and skill of young immigrants is "electrifying" Sweden.
The IT Guide aims to assist older Swedes with personal computers, the Internet and mobile phones while helping young immigrants to integrate into Swedish society.
Founder and manager Gunilla Lundberg profiled the program in an article in the Aug. 15, 2014 online issue of the Journal of Intergenerational Relationships.
Here's the program, in brief:
The IT guides
The IT guides are immigrants, aged 16 to 19, from countries outside Europe including:
- Somalia, and
- have lived in Sweden from one to three years
- be attending secondary school
- be tech savvy, and
- have good social skills.
In 2010, the program was launched in Örebro, a city of 140,000 people in the heart of Sweden. The city is home to more than 165 nationalities. Örebro supports the program by paying the IT guides for their work throughout the year.
In 2013, the guides worked with older adults:
- in Internet cafés across the city, such as senior centres
- in private homes (in pairs), and
- they conducted small group classes on the weekend for a separate fee.
Through the program, young immigrants gained opportunities to:
- learn the Swedish language
- meet other Swedes
- learn about Swedish culture and history, and
- feel more at home in their adopted country.
And Swedes, aged 65 to 99, gained opportunities to:
- improve their IT skills
- share their stories
- build bonds with young people, and
- learn about other cultures.
Lundberg plans to extend the program across Sweden, and also internationally. You can learn more here.
Editor's note: Gunilla Lundberg invites feedback from those working with similar type programs here in Canada.