Sweden is the first country in the world with its own phone number, so that you can call a Swede. Last month, Sweden set up a new phone number called “The Swedish Number” (46 771 793 336). Call a Swede and a volunteer will answer to talk to you about their country.
In 1766, Sweden became the first country in the world to introduce a constitutional law to abolish censorship. To honor this anniversary, Sweden is now the first country in the world to introduce its own phone number. Call today and get connected to a random Swede, anywhere in Sweden and talk about anything you want.
“Random Swede answering,” said Christer Blom, picking up the phone. Blom is a 53-year-old software developer who lives in the Swedish countryside about 100 miles west of Stockholm. He volunteered to field calls from people across the globe two weeks ago.
“I just thought it would be a nice thing to do,” he said.
About a third of the calls to The Swedish Number originate from the United States. The rest are a mix from across the globe. Blom said some people want travel tips; lots call to talk about politics; others want to talk about, well, anything.
“The call before you, the first question was: ‘What’s your favorite dessert?’ said Blom. “I had to think a while, but this time of year it’s strawberry with some cream. Of course it’s a seasonal dessert. It’s nice.”
You might be thinking: How does learning about Blom’s favorite summertime dessert promote travel to Sweden? Jenny Engström with the Swedish Tourist Association said the idea was, first and foremost, to create a genuine interaction.
“What I think is the cool thing about this is that it’s a phone call between two people,” said Engström. “In this digital world we’re living in, you’re not able to hear people’s voices.”
The Swedish Tourist Association, a nonprofit member organization independent of the Swedish government, wants those voices speaking for their country to be unfiltered. “To let the people who live here promote Sweden, instead of someone in a marketing firm telling you where to go or what to do,” Engström said.
Engström said they were hoping for 2,500 Swedish volunteers to answer their phones; they’ve gotten 30,000, including Sweden’s prime minister.
Some results from the Call a Swede program:
I’m going to call a Swede. I hope to hear about Örebro, where my ancestors are from. And I think the Crown Princess Victoria, her husband Prince Daniel (from Örebro too) and their children, Estelle and Oscar, are the best thing ever. I’ll let you know how it goes.
If you’re a genealogist with Swedish ancestors, please call a Swede today (and do it before 24 Jun 2016 when this project ends) – and let me know how it goes!
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