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Swedish Music and Language Course Highlights DU’s International Partnerships

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Lorne Fultonberg


Lorne Fultonberg


303 871-2660

Justin Beach


At the University of Denver’s International House, members of the community filed in, ready to begin a two-hour dive into Swedish language and music.

The course was free and open to the public, with only one prerequisite.

“You will have to sing,” said professor Frederik Persson, a tall, bearded Swede, smiling at the class’s visible discomfort.­­­­­ He picked up his ukulele and guided the group through a rendition of “Ring Ring,” by — who else? — ABBA.

“Singing brings a smile to most people’s faces,” said Persson, who teaches at Lund University. He was in town for a weeklong visit, promoting his institution’s strategic partnership with DU. “Listening to music is a great complement if you want to learn Swedish.”

Swedish Partnership
Lund University professor Frederik Persson leads a lesson on Swedish language at the University of Denver's International House.

Students at DU are already enrolled in some of Persson’s courses, preparing for a semester or a year in the south of Sweden. As part of the University’s 3+1+1 Global Masters Scholars program, students can earn a graduate degree in a number of fields while expanding their horizons abroad.

In the same week as the annual Internationalization Summit and CultureFest, the Office of Internationalization saw an opportunity to showcase some of the school’s unique global collaborations.

“The strategic partnerships are designed to make inroads where we can with logical connections between programs that already exist, rather than forcing something that neither of us has done before,” said Casey Dinger, assistant director of internationalization. “The idea is we’re trying to infuse relationships at all levels: the student level, the faculty level and the staff level.”

That relationship extends to the community level, too. Members of the Swedish Club of Denver made sure they were on campus for Persson’s lesson.

“It elevates the visibility of DU and our important goals for internationalization,” said Adrienne Gonzales, associate director of the Center for World Languages and Cultures. “I think it’s nice to bring faculty members here to really start stirring the point and get students excited. They get a little taste of what it can be like and what their study abroad experience may look like.”

For years, DU has been regularly offering less commonly taught languages,” such as Swahili or Korean. As the school looks for ways to cater to its diverse population and its diverse interests, adding Swedish has been a no-brainer.

“To me, the thinking is we have to serve the students,” Gonzalez said. “If they have an academic or professional need to study a language, then DU has a responsibility to provide quality access to that for them. It’s exciting to see what we’re able to do when we get creative and really listen to what students want.”

Junior physics student Drew Voitiv, who currently is taking Persson’s Swedish course online, says the strategic partnership is an opportunity to access material not offered in the United States. Students also could find themselves working for one of many Swedish-based companies.

“It’s important to be cognizant of other cultures and learn to appreciate differences,” said Voitiv, who will travel to Lund in the fall. “We don’t live in a bubble. We really do have to work with other countries.”