My father was born in 1947, up in Gällivare , 100 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle. On his father’s side they were Sami people, which is the indigenous people of northern Scandinavia, and on his mother’s side they were Swedes.
My mother was born in 1949 and her parents were of Finnish, Swedish and Karelian background. The area where I am from was a tri-lingual, tri-cultural place. My grandparents on my mother’s side, spoke Finnish with my mum and she answered back in Swedish. The Sami speaking ancestors of mine were, at some point in history, forbidden to speak their own language and subdued to Swedish. They were also given a Swedish name : Larsson.
I took my first breathe in 1972 in Gällivare, Laponia, where the sun never sets in summer and when the sun never rises in winter. One could mildly say that the wether and climate is extreme for some. It plays a vital part in people’s lives. Having growing up there it wasn’t strange for me at all ! It was strange for others who I met, during my childhood. There were many ‘ Oh, but it must be very cold there ‘ – conversations that I had , with people from southern Sweden and later , when I started to travel, foreigners.
Yes, it’s dark and cold in the wintertime. But that is not everything.
Growing up in an area that is classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage area is something! I was constantly surrounded by natural beauty and fresh air, all my childhood. Our mountain in Gällivare is called ‘Dundret’. When you stand on the top you can, at sunny days, see all the way to our highest mountain Kebnekasie. Saying all this, our mountains are not high. I was skiing a lot in my childhood and teens. Both cross-country and slalom.
It gave me a huge feeling of openness, growing up in a place like Gällivare, where the forests with their lakes and streams seemed endless, where the open sky seemed infinite , where nature seemed mostly untouched. When I skied I felt so free. When I stood on the top of the mountain and it was completely quiet, it gave me a feeling of serenity and calmness. My heart and mind became wildly open and caring for nature, and my heart and mind also became wildly open and caring for people, ideas and situations. – Exactly as open as the landscape I grew up in.
As winters were long and dark, I learnt patience and also developed a trust that after the darkness there will be light again. Metaphorically speaking I think it made me an enduring person. So, growing up like that made me a free-spirited soul.
There are of course many other things that have influenced me in the way I am today: my schooling, my family, my hobbies and so forth. But now it’s time to talk about Romania and people’s roots.
Many Romanians ask me how it is possible that a Swedish person is so involved in Romania. Many, who don’t know me privately, ask me also, if I don’t ‘betray’ my own heritage. Let me try to answer those questions. My roots in Sweden are strong. Maybe because I grew up in that special, magical place up in the middle of nowhere! I have a solid foundation.
My heart beats for Romania ! The wish to contribute in Romania is a passion inside me, a flame, a desire, something that I need to do. A purpose. Otherwise I can’t sleep at night.
Sweden is the roots and Romania the branches of the tree that stretches up to the sky. Sweden is the north , the cold, Romania is the south, the warmth – and I have all that inside me. I can’t describe it in another way. They are interconnected. They are the push and the pull, the thinking – the feeling. It makes me feel complete.
Many times did my heart cry in Romania, when thinking of roots and how they were silenced in the past in some situations. The history of Romania is a hugely emotional one, an intense one, and the Romanian people has fought, suffered and are still suffering , as their politicians keep deceiving them. History , science and religion have at times , as I have understood it until now , been hidden and people , as I see it , are now working on recreate, rebirth, reinstall, make more of their love for their country and willingness to express their feelings, traditions and history.
As I have a community ( The Bucharest Lounge ) that is dedicated to be constructive, I also get in contact with a huge number of constructive people , who leads organisations and initiatives that work for the amelioration of the expression of Romanian roots , history and traditions.
I admire them. Here are a few people who came my way and stayed : Vasile Lupasc, for bringing history alive through his books and his interest for Romanian history in his natal Targoviste. Ioana Hasu for bringing the real life stories of her family member – a member of the resistance group in the Fagaras mountains, a voice from the past , and pass it on to young people of today. Alina Zara Prunean for working with young people and facilitating beautiful learning experiences of their history, traditions, craft, from their area plus entrepreneurship and tools to change the future to something positive. Elena Daniela Graura , owner of restaurant Casa Terra in Fagaras, cooking all Romanian, natural food and inviting people to enjoy it and in this way enjoy what the richness of the Romanian soil has to offer. She works with young and old and her soul speaks when making food an artform in Transylvania. Father Marius and his wife Natalia Corelan in Bucium, who probably are two of the most kind people I know. They work with children and youth to strengthen their pride in being Romanian through different cultural workshops and outdoor activities. I have learnt a lot about Romanian Orthodoxy from them. Bianca in Dobrogea, who renovates a house in Dobrogean style and have builders work with ancient techniques. The Village Museum in Bucharest , when they organises workshops in the summertime for children and youth to discover Romanian ancient crafts. The HUB in Bucharest , that creates a space and community for young entrepreneurial Buchaerstians to come together, share ideas and grow together… and so many more.
There are so many organisations and initiatives in Romania, that are all working for the self expression of the Romanian roots and do so in a beautiful way. Only from when I came back to Romania, in 2011 and now, 5 years later have I experienced a change in attitude, drive and willingness to change things and a sense of pride in a positive way to express ones roots in Romania. There are more grass root movements and more people willing to stand tall, stand strong. It is good to see. There is one thing that is fundamental and very important. Stand together.