Three years ago she was accepted to a specialist training programme in Orthodontics. Sweden and Gothenburg felt very far away. Within a few months Khulood will have completed the studies and steer back to the hometown of Dubai. Having been trained at the internationally acclaimed Specialist Clinic of Orthodontics at the Institute of Odontology is opening new doors. We met her one hazy afternoon in Gothenburg to look back on her time in Gothenburg, events that have shaped her and #metoo.
Before moving she was nervous. On her mind were worries and thoughts of living in a country that far away, being surrounded by a new culture and learning a new language. Was she, a young Muslim woman, going to be accepted by the Swedes and colleagues at the clinic?
That unknown place turned out to be the right choice for her. She fell for the size and that special ambiance that is present in Gothenburg.
– Today I can safely say that Sweden is home to peaceful, understanding, helpful, accepting and non-judgmental people. I have made many Swedish friends, both through the programme and outside. And from all kinds of different countries.
– I’ve seen first-hand that no matter where you’re from, whatever your sexual orientation, religion or values, Sweden is embracing these differences. This is a safe-haven for people at need. Peace and harmony is encouraged here. I want people to know that.
The longing for holidays and trips back home have recently been replaced by a longing for Sweden, which she predicts will be present as she’s on the plane back to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This has become her second home, and changed her.
– This is where I’ve become more independent. Been shaped into something better. My baggage has been bigger although not heavier.” In it are all the friends and colleagues from Sweden and other countries who she’s met here. And she will carry it with her for the rest of her life, no matter the location.
The clinical work in her training has left its mark. A lot has happened, and some moments linger in her memory more than others.
– Once I received a bouquet of flowers from a patient towards the end of her treatment. She wanted to thank me for always making her feel safe, even through moments of pain. I will never forget that gesture or her words.
Each year the world is knocking on the door, offering events that make us raise our sights from our own perspective, at least for a few, well-selected moments. The last few months of 2017 brought new life to #metoo. Well-known phenomenon such as inequality and sexual harassments came to light and were widely spread online. In Sweden women from one business sector after another stepped out, which sent a clear signal about the magnitude of it.
– I’ve discussed this with my friends, both here in Sweden and in Dubai. The #metoo-debate has been recognised at home too, but not in the same direction or proportion as here. Many people have been surprised by how big of an issue this was in a country like Sweden.
Managers, supervisors or colleagues. She describes a clinic where everyone is supportive, encouraging and respectful with each other and towards patients.
– We’re like a family here and programme director Dr Andrea Bresin is the most caring person.
When asked about any personal experiences of harassments in a work-place she says, without a doubt: never.
– But I know how to report it, she says, describing a designated hotline service in Dubai.
Time to shift focus, from here to the future.
– Soon I’m a fully-trained specialist with a diploma from one of the best institutions within my field. This in combination with what university you have a degree from, means the most in UAE. That opens doors to higher positions. Not whether you’re a man or a woman.
You can’t miss her enthusiasm or her dedication. Just as it wasn’t by chance that she found her way here, chance won’t be leading her through her next step.