Remembering Sweden: Celebrating twenty years of endearment and ISTR’s 12th conference!
The following is a guest post by Luz E. Quiñones-González from University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez, who reflects on her memories of living in Sweden 20 years ago and celebrating her return this June for the upcoming ISTR Conference.
This year 2016 is a special year filled with many good memories. Twenty years ago, in January 1996, I arrived for the first time to Sweden for two years of service among people from all around the world gathered in a small community named Rinkeby, in Stockholm. Those two years were a life-changing experience for me.
I went to Sweden to partner with a non-profit organization that provides assistance to immigrants and refugees, including Spanish-speaking people. Since the very beginning, I got involved in the multiethnic international community, where every culture contributes to the taste, flavor, and sound in the square, small businesses, and the general economic development. Collaborating with faith-based organizations, the cultural integration was also an enriching experience. I had the privilege to meet people from different countries such as Ethiopia, Eritrea, Egypt, Syria, Greece, Kosovo, India, Uganda, Iran, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Honduras, El Salvador, Cuba, and even another Puerto Rican, among many other people from many other countries, and of course, many good Swedish friends.
This year, I commemorate the experience of living in this beautiful Nordic country, a cold place, yet full of warm people. I learned the language, fell in love with Sweden’s nature, its amazing landscape, and its four intensive seasons. I learned to appreciate their culture, and of course, to enjoy the cozy cafés in Gamla Stan (The Old Town). After my first good-bye to Sweden in January 1998, I have visited it twice: first in 2000 when I participated as representative of academia in a conference of gender empowerment in science and technology, and then again in the summer of 2012 for vacation.
This year, a year of jubilee, I will be back in my dear Sweden to combine a long-awaited summer vacation with a special occasion for my academic career: to participate in the 12th International Conference held by the International Society for Third Sector Research (ISTR). After attending the Latin American and the Caribbean Regional Conference in San Juan and Ponce, Puerto Rico in August 2015, and serving as a moderator of two sessions, I immediately planned to join the Stockholm Conference. The focus of this year ISTR conference is “The Third Sector in Transition: Accountability, Transparency, and Social Inclusion”. It will be held at Ersta Skondal University College, Stockholm, on June 28 – July 1, 2016. I will be presenting the results of my study on volunteers in a non-profit organization in Puerto Rico. It will be an opportunity to learn and to share with all the global guests who will be telling the story of their respective countries, contributing to a better equipped civil society.
I am sure this year’s conference will encompass new challenges, and new open doors to welcome valuable contributions through research on the Third Sector from all around the world. Aware that “there is nothing more practical than a good theory”, we are eager to learn by studying, learn by doing, and learn by serving; praxis. As an extra bonus, we will enjoy the beauty of Stockholm City, a city on water. Ola Segnestam Larsson asked in a previous blog: “Why Stockholm?”, and I add: “Why not?” To all ISTR members and guests, we welcome you to the enchanting country of Sweden!
Luz E. Quiñones-González, Ph. D. – University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez – College of Business Administration