Below is a note from our Research Assistant Cherry. It is a recap of our office’s trip to Stockholm in August, and Cherry’s personal reflections. Enjoy! (Cherry also wants you to follow her on Instagram: @cherryyyyyy_sangggg).

I went with our office on an offsite trip to Stockholm in late August. To do what? To exchange ideas on youth-related matters. Sweden is known for its equality and social welfare measures – children, youth, adults and elderly all enjoy equal rights in Sweden. Also, Sweden has a comprehensive youth policy, and they have the largest youth center in the world. I was very excited to visit and ask questions about this fascinating country.

Day 1

The first stop we visited was Fryshuset, which is the largest youth center in the world. We had a casual lunch at their center talking about youth-related activities in the two cities, the things that the cities have in common and what we can learn from each other. My colleagues and I were very much impressed by their spirits. Johan, the CEO of Fryshuset, said, “we don’t look at the past of our participants. No matter which country they are from, whatever their socioeconomic background, and whether they are refugees, we only look at their future.” He also mentioned that as a youth organization, they don’t believe in specialization in youth work. Instead, they constantly consult youth and organically expand their services based on young people’s interests and needs. Therefore, when we were taking a tour at the center, we saw different kinds of facilities for youth who have different interests. In addition, they offer world-class trainers and instructors to guide young people in developing their interests with fully equipped facilities and production studios.


One of the skateboarding venues at Fryshuset.


After lunch, we went to a local NGO called Protus. For friends who have been following Ming Wai on Facebook, you may have noticed that we posted some photos taken at Protus a few days ago. Protus is a very dynamic organization. Protus was started in 2009. It follows a Finnish model for experiential learning in philosophy and life values. They organize 12- days summer camps on a remote island every year and let young people gain life experiences during that time on the island. Their central theme is exploration but not dictation. They believe that young people should lead young people. Youth leaders will facilitate discussion with participants and a lot of times youth leaders are around the same age as participants.


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‘Fika’ – Refers to coffee and tea time in Swedish

Our team and the Protus Team


After a great discussion and ‘Fika’ time at Protus we moved downstairs to Epicenter, which is a co-working space for tech start-up industries and individuals. The coolest thing about the Epicenter is not just that it has a very innovative, but the members from the center were implanted with a grain – sized micro-chip in their hands and that could be used to open the doors, access to printers and even buying food from the vending machine.

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The Epicenter in Stockholm with their very innovative co-working spaces


The CEO of Epicenter told us that membership requires more than monetary subscription; members need to be active in contributing to the community and in its activities. Big firms like Twitter and Spotify like to be involved in Epicenter as they can be geographically close to smaller start-ups, which can offer ideas for business innovation. Also, for smaller firms, they have opportunities to get in touch with bigger firms and collaborate. One thing I noticed was that there was a room dedicated to failed start-up cases, encouraging young people to appreciate their failures and try to understand the reasons behind them.

The last stop of the day was the Nobel Foundation. I believe we all know or at least have heard about the Nobel Prize, but what people may not know is that the Nobel Foundation was established in Stockholm. People from the Nobel Foundation introduced their work. We also discussed how to encourage young people to develop their interests in science.


You might find our trip to be very boring, as it was filled with so many different meetings. But let me tell you – our trip has just started at this point!

Day 2

Stockholm had such amazing weather that we decided to have an outdoor BBQ, and make some jam for colleagues who unfortunately had to stay in Hong Kong.




Day 3

Sunday was a big day! There was a triathlon in Stockholm during the weekend. Under Ming Wai’s coercion (oops, no should be ‘encouragement’), all colleagues participated in a triathlon. But I enjoyed the experience.

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Day 4

The last day was a work day filled with meetings. We first visited the City Hall of Stockholm and had a meeting with Olle Burell, Stockholm’s Deputy Mayor, and exchanged notes on the differences between the education systems of the two cities. Surprisingly, we found out that ‘Monster Parents’ and ‘Tiger Moms’ do not just exist in Hong Kong. They are everywhere! Some parents would use their work e-mail address to email the school to apply pressure to teachers to make sure that their children would receive the best resources. Besides that, I believe there are a lot of things that we could learn from Sweden’s education system, for example, students were asked to choose as early as at age 15 their future career path – to either specialize in vocational education or go into the academic stream. This allows young people to follow the path that they enjoy the most.

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The Mayor took us around in the City Hall and explained the history of the building


The last stop before we headed back to Hong Kong was a meeting with LUF (Liberal Youth of Sweden). This is the youth wing of Sweden’s Liberal Party and is chaired by young adults. LUF strongly advocates youth’s civic participation. Their idea of civic participation does not only include youth rights, but also youth’s general engagement and expression of opinions on wider social issues such as housing or education. Another thing – surprise surprise! The two members we met with were not familiar with the Swedish youth policy! This is because the principles and spirit of the youth policy permeates governmental measures and actions. (Click to review the key points of the Swedish youth policy).


Lunch with Luf leaders

That was a very interesting discussion with the LUF and understood the political environment in Sweden as well as how we could help the young people here in Hong Kong to be more involved in the civic participation.


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Luf’s campaign poster – ‘the cat loves open border’

‘Talk to the invisible hand’


Lastly, I would like to close this post with a fun fact that we heard from the LUF that the Social Democratic Labor Party (SAP), the largest party in Sweden and its ruling party for the majority of the past 100 years, and its Swedish Social Democratic Youth Union (SSU), own a lottery company in Sweden and the proceeds of that company go to fund the party’s operation.

The offsite trip to Stockholm was a lot of fun, not just that we have learnt a lot about how Swedish people think and work but also some unique experiences that I had (Triathlon!).

Therefore, in conclusion, I think we need to have more of this kind of offsite trips.

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