In anticipation for the royal visit of King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Sylvia of Sweden, students across campus have been looking forward to being able to partake in their reception on campus. Many efforts have been made on this front to ensure the warm welcome of Their Majesties.
“We’re hoping that they feel a lot of pride in coming to Gustavus,” Sesquicentennial Assistant Maggie Hedlund said. “When royalty come from far and wide, that’s monumental and we should feel proud of that.”
Barb Larson Taylor, Assistant to the President for Special Projects, charged with much of the responsibility of welcoming the King and Queen of Sweden, has been in the planning processes for this long-awaited reception. “For several years, discussions with the royal court about a formal invitation were in the works,” Taylor said.
With an estimate of a thousand elementary students from grades Kindergarten to sixth grade, along with over a hundred volunteers in addition to the college campus, Friday, Oct. 5 is expected to be a busy day for Gustavus, with hopes of energizing Gustavus students and getting them involved on this auspicious occasion.
Although much emphasis is being placed on the celebration itself, there are also great measures being taken to include and spark significant dialogue during this visit.
“We wanted some way to showcase the most important thing that we really want to do here,” Taylor said. “We wanted to give students opportunities to be in the same room with Their Majesties. It’s intentional that the seminars are scheduled in the afternoon. The topics are of personal passions for Their Majesties. We also wanted to help our students see that these are two people who have lots of interests, they care—and that Sweden is more than people who are blonde haired, blue eyed and eat meatballs. Sweden is a country leading in energy sustainability. They have some wonderful things to hold up that we don’t always think about as a college.”
Seminars will be held in Honor of Their Majesties. The King’s seminars, From Global to Local: Teaching and Living Environmental Sustainability, which will be featuring the Swedish Ambassador to the United States Jonas Hafstrom, and Protecting and Supporting the World’s Women and Children will have remarks from her Majesty the Queen. Both seminars will be moderated discussions that will include a panel of Gustavus students, faculty and staff, as well as alumni.
“I’m glad Gustavus is making an effort to make this panel happen,” Senior Environmental Studies Alex Christensen said.
As part of the panel addressing environmental sustainability, Christensen hopes to represent a student perspective that stresses importance of environmental issues.
“There are a lot of things I want to talk about from my own experience, including the work that I’ve done on the Big Hill Farm, about what will happen with the compost pile, the prairie and its recent dedication and what that means for Gustavus, ” Christensen said.
With students being able to be a part of this discussion, there is hope for this particular issue to have a much more prominent role on campus.
“I think the administration will be tuned into what the King of Sweden thinks about what we’re doing,” Christensen said. “If he likes what he hears and thinks that we should do more about sustainability, there’s a bigger chance of that actually happening. I hope that it is as open to the campus as it possibly can be because it’s an important event and I hope people are able to experience it, even if they can’t be in the room, I want there to be further dialogue.”
Junior and co-president of the Gustavus Greens and Copy Editor of The Weekly Rebecca Hare is also looking forward to this panel. “I want to hear an international perspective on environmental awareness,” Hare said. One of the many students who will be attending the seminars, Hare plans for this opportunity to be an insightful learning experience.
“I’m excited for the topics that have been chosen to be discussed because these are applicable to college students. They’re social issues that affect us all, especially climate change and alternative resources,” Hare said.
Apart from student participation, others are finding ways to get involved.
“Not just college kids are getting into the spirit of the arrival of the King and Queen,” Hedlund said. “All the kids in town are getting into it, people from across the country are getting into it. They’re learning simple things about what to expect when they see the King and Queen, such as why they won’t be wearing crowns or what they do in their free time.”
“I hope everyone makes a connection,” Hedlund said. “The King and Queen of Sweden don’t come to the U.S. very often, so this is a once in a lifetime thing. We have to make the most out of that. Even if you aren’t attending seminars, I would encourage students, if nothing else, to just stand and wave, say you saw them, be a part of the day in some way.”