The stranger

This piece of work involves ”Vivallagården”, which is a youth recreation center placed in a housing area in the Swedish city Örebro. This recreation center is a meeting-place well known for its multiculturalism.  One of the authors of this work is a recreation leader at Vivallagården and this is one of the reasons to why we chose this as the object of our report. Another reason is the fact that we are very interested in stereotypes, attitudes and prejudice and therefore this object seemed very natural for us to choose. The purpose of our work is to write a form of manual for future recreation leaders who want to start working at Vivallagården. The manual is supposed to help the new leader with the interaction process at the center which is unavoidable when you are new. It is also supposed to help become a good leader for the teenagers that visit the center. In order to succeed writing this manual we have chosen to interview three recreation leaders already working at Vivallagården. We asked them four questions and their answers have been important and have functioned as a frame for our results. We have also used different literatures to strengthen our knowledge about interaction processes.

The majority of the inhabitants of Vivalla have all got different nationalities and many of the teenagers visit the recreation center since it is their meeting-place. The center is open for teenagers between the years of 13 and 16 and it is a part of  “Kultur- och medborgarförvaltningen” (the Culture- and citizen public administration) in Örebro district. Vivallagården also cooperates with several other operators, such as the school and the educational association.

In this report we chose to emanate from Georg Simmel´s concept of The stranger, which has lead us to a deeper understanding of what actually happens when an individual comes to a new group and how someone can bring oneself closer to new cultures.  Simmel was a German sociologist who created the concept of the stranger. Simmel defined the stranger in terms of intimacy versus social distance in interpersonal communication relationships. This dimension is fundamental to the study of intercultural communication. Simmel described the stranger as “the one who comes today and stays tomorrow”. He also defined the stranger as an individual who is a member of a system but who is not strongly attached to that system. The stranger is not completely accepted by other members of the system.

So when you come as a new leader to Vivallagården, what can you do to bring yourself closer to their group, how can you interact with them and become one of them? What does this process look like? If we can find answers to these questions we will be able to write a manual to help any new leader with the process.

The conclusion we reached through our interviews and from the literatures was the actual manual. We learned that the interaction process starts off with the stranger: when you come as a new individual to Vivallagården you will be looked at as a stranger. After some time the other members will start accepting you and finally they will invite you to become one of them: you become a member of their group and culture. This will eventually lead you to start looking at other new members as strangers. The manual we wrote contains advice for how you act in order to be a leader in a successful way. These are some of the contains of the manual:

–          You have to be consistent

–           You have to be fair

–          You have to have patience

–          You have to see the teenagers in everything they do, no matter what they do

–          You have to be free from prejudice

–          All you do you have to do with LOVE!

Thank you!

From Johanna and Kristin with LOVE!

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