New in town, interested in culture and with a will to help. Those were three of the things that made Annie Andersson and Mame Kame Wada a good match. Thanks to Vän i Umeå, they have now been friends for over a year.

The autumn of 2015 Annie Andersson moved over one thousand kilometres from her hometown Karlskrona to Umeå in order to study the Trainers Programme. The programme can be found in several places in Sweden, but the possibility to study sports medicine, psychology and physiology in one place is unique for Umeå University.

Just as she enjoys diversity in her studies, Annie likes practicing different sports, meeting different cultures and travelling to foreign countries. She also finds it important to help others. New in town, she looked forward to making new friends.

When she received the information folder from Vän i Umeå, she took the opportunity to unite all these interests.
– It’s exciting to get to know people from different countries and cultures. At the time I came here, there were a lot of things happening in the world, so becoming a part of Vän i Umeå felt like a sensible thing to do.

Vän i Umeå was founded in 2011 by Stina Lindbäck from Social Services in Umeå, and Åsa Norin, who works at the campus church. They wanted to give recently arrived immigrants, especially unaccompanied refugee children, an opportunity to meet and make friends with people and families living in Umeå.

Annie Andersson explains how it works:
– After you sign up you’ll be invited to an interview where you get to talk a bit about yourself. Then they match you with someone based on interests, age and language. You receive each other’s contact information and then it’s up to you.

A few weeks after Annie’s interview, she met 19-year-old Mame Kame Wada from Senegal, who came to Umeå three years ago. Since their first meeting Annie and Mame Kame have had a lot of fun together. They like to watch TV series, talk, and cook. Cooking is one of Mame Kame’s biggest interests, and one day she taught Annie how to make her favourite Senegal dish, Yassa.
– It contained rice, chicken, different vegetables and spices and it tasted very good, Annie says.

Read more in Vertex #9-2016.

Text and photo:
Vendela Wikström