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Filippa Dandenell - 1985-86

Trans-Atlantic travel not over for Swedish, American families
By Bill Keaton

It’s a tale of trans-Atlantic travel with no end in sight.
The story started when AnnaMia Dandenell first came to Oberlin in 1982 as an AFS student staying with the Carl and Mary Bewig family. She spent her year and returned home to Sweden the summer of ’83. The Bewig’s two daughters, Laura and Wendy, traveled to Sweden last summer to spend three weeks with the Dandenell family. Now AnnaMia and her sister Filippa are back. And the story continues.

While AnnaMia has a three-week visit planned, Filippa has made arrangements to spend the year with the Bewigs.

To listen to the girls, it sounds as if they plan to spend every summer traveling back and forth visiting each other.

“Wendy and Laura were at our house last year, and we planned to try to get back in touch with each other every year,” said AnnaMia. “I want to see these people, because they are my family.”

Arrangements for Filippa’s stay were made without the help of the American Field Service. While the Bewig girls visited the Dandendells, Filippa mentioned she would like to visit the United States. The Bewigs jokingly said she should stay with them.

When the girls returned from Sweden the possibility of Filippa staying with the family was discussed, and Mrs. Bewig wrote a tactful letter inviting her to come for an “extended visit.”

“She wrote back saying she didn’t know what was meant by an extended visit, but she would like to spend the year,” Mrs. Bewig said with a laugh. She said all the members of both families, not just the girls, write to each other.

“AnnaMia told me a lot about America and it sounded very interesting,” explained Filippa. “I wanted to go abroad to school for a year. When Laura and Wendy visited, we got along very well.” 

There is no more work involved arranging for Filippa’s visit than for AnnaMia’s stay, though the work was less structured because AFS was not involved. Arrangements were made for Filippa to attend Oberlin High School by the Bewigs and both AnnaMia and Filppa applied for visas.

It was easier for Filippa to obtain a visa for this than it was for AnnaMia, because authorities thought she wanted to travel to the United States to search for work.

Reflecting on her year as an AFS student, AnnaMia said the hardest thing to get used to was so many different cultures in one country and the open, friendly manner of Americans.

“Swedes are really reserved and quite shy,” she explained. “They live in a small country.”

Neither of the Swedish girls is shy, however, and they laughed and said they are exceptions to the rule.

“I am a lot more independent now,” AnnaMia added. “I can adjust to things better than other people my age because I have been abroad.

“You learn you can’t bring your culture with you and expect things to be that way.”

Filippa said she is looking forward to attending school, where she will be a senior, and learning about American culture. Both she and AnnaMia said the transition to living here should be easy, as both the culture and the Bewig and Dandenell families are similar.

Filippa’s interests include music, photography, art and painting.

The Bewigs are planning to take Filippa to New York, Boston and other major cities, just as they did when AnnaMia was here.

The girls added they would like to take a ski trip to Colorado.

Photograph caption: Past AFS student AnnaMia Dandenell (center) is back for a three-week stay with Carl and Mary Bewig. Accompanying her is her sister, Filippa (right), who will spend the coming year with the Bewigs. Last summer Laura Bewig (left) and her sister Wendy traveled to Sweden for a three-week stay with the Dandenells.

Oberlin News-Tribune, Oberlin, Ohio, 
Thursday, August 15, 1985, p. 3.

Posted 2 May02
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