Settling into our second week in Jokkmokk, we find it easy to navigate. We hold classes in the same classroom (follow the ‘Gustavus’ arrow) and eat in the cafeteria for lunch. The grocery store, which I’m sure I visit almost daily, is within walking distance. The public library and other shops are even closer. I observed in the morning that Monday’s batch of snow had already been cleared from the roads and sidewalks. Of course, it is not chemically treated, only shovelled out and packed down; small black rocks are used in the more slippery places. Even the little student shortcut trail was already packed down by footprints by the time I made my way there for lunch. I paused halfway up the hill to admire the mountains of snow and the way it had descended on every tree branch.
In the afternoon the group met for discussion. Our topic was excerpts from Trekways of the Wind by the Sámi poet and cultural ambassador Nils-Aslak Valkeapää. We considered what this contemporary work has to say about present relations between the Sámi and the Swedes because tension still exists. We discussed how we feel as outsiders to the community. Certainly, as foreigners, our relationship with Samernas is very special.
I took the opportunity to visit the Ájtte library after tea. The public has access to this collection of Sámi books and other resources provided by Ájtte museum and Samernas. The librarian was very kind. All the students are researching some aspect of the Sámi culture more in depth and will find their time at the library well spent.
We are getting used to cooking our own meals (it’s not pasta every night) and sharing the kitchen with the students at Samernas, who are helpful and friendly. They are very willing to converse with us, both in English and in Swedish, as we all continue to study the Swedish language.