“Living in Sweden has afforded me the opportunity to explore, experiment, and expand my horizons in ways that I believe wouldn't have been possible in my home country. Culture has been my bridge to integration, the common thread that binds us all. So, I encourage you to step out, explore, attend exhibitions, pause to appreciate street musicians, and, if you dare, strike up a conversation with strangers.”
I'm Oyuki Matsumoto, and I've had the privilege of serving as a cultural administrator in Lund for the past two enriching years. My journey to this position began in 2003 when I left my home country, Mexico, for Sweden, driven by the universal reason of love. At that time, my partner was a Danish citizen, and due to Denmark's migration rules, we decided to settle in Malmö, Sweden.
In the early days of my Swedish adventure, I had the opportunity to study Swedish for Immigrants (SFI) as part of an academic pilot project. The concept was simple: after a year of intensive language learning, you were encouraged to find an apprenticeship related to your field of study or your previous work experience. Thanks to an incredible SFI teacher, I landed at Drömmarnas Hus in Rosengård, an organization with a long-standing commitment to using culture as a tool for integration, with a special focus on children and young adults. It was during my time at Drömmarnas Hus that I met some extraordinary individuals, including my supervisor, who later became one of my dearest friends. Together, we embarked on many collaborative projects over the years.
Following my stint at Drömmarnas Hus, I dedicated myself to mastering the Swedish language, immersing myself in the culture, and expanding my professional network. On the side, I decided to take a course in production, and in partnership with a friend, I initiated my first project in Sweden: "De Dodas Festival." This project opened doors for me to connect with a multitude of people and provided valuable insights into how Sweden's cultural landscape functions. Subsequently, my former supervisor from Drömmarnas Hus moved on to another organization and reached out to me about managing a new project called Containerbibliotek. After successfully overseeing this project, I was offered a permanent position with the organization. This marked the beginning of nearly a decade of dedicated work at STPLN, a cultural hub in the Western Harbor of Malmö, which also happens to be the first maker space in Sweden. During my time at STPLN, I collaborated with artists and creators from Sweden and various corners of the globe, bringing numerous innovative projects to life.
Yet, life has a way of evolving, and I began to feel a yearning for my roots. Despite having forged an incredible network of friends and colleagues in Sweden, I missed my family and friends in Mexico. In 2017, I made the heartfelt decision to return to my homeland and settle in the bustling metropolis of Mexico City. My time there was fun!! I met a lot of people and worked in different amazing projects, but it made me realize one thing: I had become too Swedish to live in Mexico. You who are reading this might not understand this… YET. But believe me… we all get there. I found myself longing for the familiar landscapes of Malmö. I missed the joy of biking through the city, the soothing presence of the sea, and the abundant access to cultural experiences. I heard about a job opportunity in Lund, and I applied. Fortunately, I was selected for the position!! Working for the City of Lund has presented me with a different perspective on my passion for culture. While my role leans more toward administrative aspects, I remain closely connected with incredibly creative individuals who are spearheading various organizations and projects that contribute significantly to Lund's cultural vibrancy.
You might be wondering why I've shared so much about my professional journey. It's quite simple - I'm profoundly passionate about what I do. Living in Sweden has afforded me the opportunity to explore, experiment, and expand my horizons in ways that I believe wouldn't have been possible in my home country. Culture has been my bridge to integration, the common thread that binds us all. So, I encourage you to step out, explore, attend exhibitions, pause to appreciate street musicians, and, if you dare, strike up a conversation with strangers. You never know what remarkable connections and experiences might await you. I look forward to meeting each one of you out there!
/ Oyuki Matsumoto