SWEA Singapore’s Active Chairwoman

By Kathrine Gravrok-Butt

Anna Karin Byström has been a member of SWEA since she moved to Singapore two years ago. She believes that the network and support they provide is very important for Swedish women living abroad.
 “Wherever SWEA is present, there is always help and support available,” she says.
 Last April she attended the Annual World Meeting in Washington, where she met the other SWEA leaders from around the world. She says it was very inspiring to meet all these confident and strong women, especially the ‘veteran leaders’ such as the founder of SWEA Agneta Nilsson.

SWEA’s role in Singapore:
Anna Karin explains that SWEA in Singapore offers several activities and support functions to both new and old members. These include regular events such as monthly dinners, coffee mornings, parties, nature walks, and guided excursions. Every spring and autumn, they arrange information meetings for new members, in cooperation with the Swedish church, the embassy, Swedish school and the business association.
 They also offer mentoring services to newly arrived members, for the purpose of providing advice and support during the initial settling period.
 Some of the activities that SWEA offers focus on learning about Singapore and the Asian culture, while other events celebrate various Swedish traditions and festivities.
  ‘The goal is to activate people, and encourage them to socialize and use the network that SWEA provides to find new friends in Singapore’, Anna Karin says.
 One of the most recent SWEA events was the annual Spring Party, held on Saturday 16th of May at Indochine Waterfront Restaurant. This popular event gathered 170 guests that enjoyed alfresco dining and some classic Swedish dance tunes, played by celebrity guest and DJ Claes “Clabbe” of Geijerstam.
Busy life for SWEA President
Anna Karin and her family are experienced expatriates and have also lived in Shanghai before they moved to Singapore. She loved living in this exciting, lively city and especially enjoyed the constant action and movement of people.
 “Living in Shanghai was an enormous difference from our lives back home, as we come from a small town in the Northern part of Sweden,” says Anna Karin.
 After moving to Singapore, Anna Karin found that life here was very easy and comfortable, especially compared to living in Shanghai. She therefore felt the need to get herself busy and decided to get involved with SWEA. She also has other projects to keep her occupied and is currently writing her PhD thesis on ‘Intercultural Communication and Organizational Culture’. This is a subject of great interest to Anna Karin and very suitable to write about while living in Asia.
 The expatriate period in Singapore will end next summer for the Byström family, which is causing mixed emotions for the family members. Anna Karin explains that her three children (aged 11, 14 and 17) are enjoying life in the big city so much that they are reluctant to move back to the countryside in Sweden. However, Anna Karin and her husband feel that they will be ready to leave Singapore next year.

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