Photo: Vittoria ManettiEmil Juslin is chairman of UPS, Uppsala Political Student’s Association, that recently adopted a new language policy for their meetings to make international students feel more included in their democratic process.

Bilingual Efforts on the Rise

Many of the student unions, nations and organizations in Uppsala claim to welcome and represent all students and their interests, yet many of the international students cannot get involved in them due to language barriers. But some student organizations have gone the distance and made sure that English-speaking students feel welcome as well. Vittoria Manetti spoke to two of them.

We meet Emil Juslin, the chairman of UPS (Uppsala Political Science Students’ Association), in order to discuss the changes that have been made to render the association more inclusive in regards non-Swedish speakers. Since last fall, discussions had been ongoing about translating the meetings and giving the association a bilingual mark. This became official in December and now, if needed, the meetings are translated and those who join them can ask the chairman for a quick translation from Swedish to English and vice versa.
– This is the basis for ensuring greater inclusion and involvement of international students who desire to actively take part in UPS, Emil Juslin says.
Up until now, he explains, this change has made UPS more appealing and made people feel more included, the concrete results of this change will hopefully be more evident in the upcoming semester.
– It is in our interest to find a balance to make everyone feel welcome, both the Swedish speakers and the English ones, he says.
Creating a comfortable environment is at the core of hospitality, both for those hosting and for those being hosted.

The nations are also aiming to be more inclusive. Paul Bengtsson, who was international secretary of Uplands a few years ago, explains how he worked to make Uplands more inclusive by reducing language obstacles.
– I managed to provide at least two translators at each meeting in order to have a live-translation during the meetings and allow the non-Swedish speakers to be part of the democratic process of the nation, he says.
A list of specific terms used in these formal occasions was drawn up in English. He explains that they also invented a new office in charge of translating the documents. Paul Bengtsson underlines the role of this bilingual change in normalizing the idea of talking in English.
– From the perspective of a Swedish speaker accustomed to speaking Swedish all the time, the idea of establishing a bilingual routine leads to awareness of the multiple perspectives that exist in languages, making it less strange to talk another language in their own country, he says.
Inclusion according to him is something that needs to be both ideal and concrete. He explains that the input came from the large number of international students working and involved in the nation. Another important element that he stresses is that it has become routine and that this was important to guarantee a future to the project he worked on.
– The project has been easy to carry out due to the massive cooperation and support received from the members of the nation.