Claire Glover ’16, one of this year’s Community and Multicultural Development (CAMD) Scholars, stood before a full audience in Kemper Auditorium on Friday night to share her personal and historical experience on reconnecting with her Swedish heritage.
Glover’s talk, which was titled “Journeys Home: Echoes of Heritage,” emphasized the importance of home and ethnicity in relation to her own Swedish heritage. She began her speech with her personal experience of reconnecting with Swedish culture several summers ago when she visited Stockholm for the first time and met her extended family.
“I was embraced, welcomed and loved in a place that should have seemed strange to me, and that outpouring of love immediately brought me closer to my Swedish roots. Staying loyal to a specific ethnicity through generations has kept my family strong and self-aware,” she said during the presentation.
Glover provided the historical context of her broader topic by discussing the migration of Northern Europeans to the New World between 1890 and 1913. She distinguished the migrants who chose to maintain strong cultural, linguistic or religious ties to their homelands from those who chose to adopt American culture more completely.
“The dissolution of the specific ethnic communities, including the dissipation of religious distinctions and intermarriage of European descendants, has created a gap in the lives of many white Americans of European descent,” said Glover.
After Glover’s presentation, five student and faculty panelists—BrianPaul Robert ’16, Kieto Mahaniah ’16, Karissa Kang ’17, Debra Pickering, Instructor in French, and Glover’s mother, Ellen Greenberg, Instructor in Mathematics—took the stage to share stories of their own ethnicities and homes with the audience.
“I look out in the audience and think that this is my home and this is my family because you have all helped raise [Claire] and her brothers here. Thank you for providing the kind of love and support that makes a home a home. I have brought up the Swedish culture to Claire as my mother brought it to me. It has always been so important to me and clearly it has also impacted Claire,” said Greenberg.
Greenberg concluded by sharing the story of how she herself was able to return to visit Sweden with the school’s funding to reconnect her extended family and home. With only a postcard in hand, Greenberg was able to find the location of and presence of her ancestors in a town near Stockholm.
While preparing for her research, Glover said that she especially enjoyed listening and relating to other people’s narratives about their homes, heritages and cultures.
“I loved how everyone I talked to bombarded me with stories… Everyone shares their stories with me because it is so relatable when you say ‘I am looking into stories of home and belonging.’ I chose [a topic] that I not only love but I know a lot of other people also love thinking and talking about,” said Glover.
Glover also emphasized the importance of acknowledging the fact that not everyone held such positive views toward their ethnicity. She said that, while she has not personally experienced any negative aspects of her own ethnicity as a white American of European descent, others may feel otherwise.
“It is universal to embrace your stories, but at the same time, it is not without cost for some people. There are negatives and positives for ethnicities… [and] for some cultures and people, there are negatives that are really significant. So [knowing that] being able to embrace your culture while appreciating [it] is not available for everyone, is important,” she continued.
Glover hoped to encourage members of the Andover community to begin exploring their own heritage through her presentation.
“I feel so strongly about Sweden and about finding people you love across the globe–finding places that make you feel calm,” said Glover. “So I wanted to write about how universal [this feeling] is and how everyone thinks like that. Certain places are their homes and everyone has stories to share.”