April 15, 2021

halina rosa/ THE EDITOR IN CHIEF OF THE DESIGNER MAGAZINE/ STOCKHOLM

EMPOWERING GIRLS

19 min read

Children with Nobla Prize/ Stockholm.

Interview with Lavinia and Amelie Valcu, two creative students of Nobla School in Solna, Stockholm for The Designer Magazine.

Classroom.


Rosenträdgården/ the part of the novel.

Lavinia Valcu
Klass: 5a
Noblaskolan
Ämne: Svenska (Noblaprisnovell)

Jag satt vid fönstret på cafe Rosenknoppen och smuttade på det svarta teet. Utanför ven vinden genom buskarna och fick trädens blad att dansa i skymningsljuset. Det såg ut som om de vinkade åt mig, kallade på mig att följa med i deras farligt vackra lek. Jag reste mig och drog kappan tätare om kroppen. När jag steg ut i den kyliga höstkvällen spelade avlägsna kyrkklockor en vacker melodi medan solen sakta sjönk mot horisonten. Stockholm låg tyst medan jag vandrade vidare på dess trista gator, en bris fick mitt hår att fladdra samtidigt som den förde med sig en förvarning om nattens stundande oväder.


Jag hade kommit in i en fin del av staden, kullerstensbelagda vägar gick slingrande mellan de gamla husen och högresta statyer blickade upp mot himlen med söndervittrade ansikten. En bil parkerade, ett par gick skrattande hand i hand, en butik stängde för natten. Alla små detaljer var så tydliga, men som från en annan värld, jag såg allt, men ingen såg mig. Tre musiker spelade en klassisk visa medan förbipasserande stannade till en stund för att sedan slänga en peng i hatten som låg vid bandets fötter. Längre ned på gatan kopplade en flicka en hund medan hon lät den slicka i sig vattnet från rännstenen. Ingen la märke till när jag ljudlöst passerade.


Jag svängde vänster in till en park och passerade genom grinden vars gröna färg börjat flagna efter allt för många år av väder och vind. En smal, stenlagd gång ledde djupare inåt i grönskan, där trädens guldgula löv smyckade vägen mellan de skönt vildvuxna blommorna. Naturen var så levande vacker oavsett årstid, mitt bland Stockholms förorenade trafik lyste Rosenträdgården upp staden med sitt milda sken.
Jag följde stigen mot mitten av parken, medan lösryckta ord kom svävande mot mig. Dansa… Eld… Förtvina… Orden var både inne i mitt huvud och utanför, och de melodiska rösterna ekade högre ju närmare trädgårdens mitt jag kom. När jag kom fram till gläntan i den lilla skogens hjärta mässade rösterna så högt att de helt överröstade de avlägsna ljuden från staden.
En porlande bäck sprang fram ur en berghäll och delade gläntan i två för att sedan rinna ut i tjärnen som prydde bortre hörnet. Träden som växte här var uråldriga, med stammar som sett tusentals dagar försvinna bort. Blommorna tävlade med hårfina marginaler om klaraste färgen och olika nyanser av blått, rött, lila, grönt och gult blandades ihop till en matta av färger och rosenbuskar växte så tätt runt gläntan att det enda sättet att ta sig in var vägen som jag tagit. Om parken varit vacker tidigare så var det ingenting mot detta, hjärtat av grönskans otyglade skönhet.


Samtidigt som rösterna stigit i volym hade orden blivit mer sammanhängande och bildade nu meningar som skallade över Stockholm. Dansa, dansa en sista dans. Sjunga, sjunga trädens vals. Aldrig mer skåda himlens stjärna av ljus, som värmer skogens växters hus. Orden kom från alla håll, de var skogens, från den sköraste blomma till mest högresta tall.


Solen hade nu helt försvunnit bakom horisonten och den blodröda himlen ersatts av tunga moln som skymde stjärnorna. En kylig vind fick träden att knaka olycksbådande när nattens svarta lugn långsamt sänkte sig. Meningarna övergick i en ordlös sång som dolde alla minnen från årstidernas gång. Den talade om snöns vackra kyla och den vildsinta kraft som gömde sig under sömnen som vilade över parken de kalla månaderna, vårens upplupna, porlande bäckar. Sommarens lysande gula sol, när alla djur sprang omkring med outtröttlig energi. Och höstens stillsamma skönhet, när alla färger blandades ihop till ett skinande lövverk som virvlade runt bland träden.
Blommorna dansade i vinden medan de lät sina blad falla och virvla runt i en kaskad av färger. Marken gungade och vattnet i källan höjde sig upp ur sin viloplats. Min röst bidrog med minnen när jag lät mig svepas med i den snabba dans som fångade alla skogens varelser. En hjort galopperade med högburet huvud runt i gläntan medan suddiga scener om gräsets smak blixtrade förbi och jag kände upprymdheten från när djuret sprungit över en mosstäckt skogsstig. En hök cirklade runt gläntan för att sedan långsamt landa i en ek. En svindlande vision av att svepa fram över markerna och känna vinddraget som rufsade om fjädrarna. Den aldrig sinande floden av intryck var överväldigande när hundratals djur och växter anslöt sig.
Nu gick dansen snabbare, nästintill hektisk och åskan mullrade när en ny typ av bilder svepte förbi. Denna gång var det människor med, stora maskiner sågade ned träden och yxor arbetade mot stammarna. En ström av djur flydde bort från kalhygget ut i den bullriga trafiken. Jag kände skogens sorg, den fasansfulla vetskapen om vad som skulle ske. Och sen, helt utan förvarning, slog blixten ned. Parken sprakade av elektricitet, när träden runt gläntan spred elden till varandra. Men ändå fortsatte sången, mitt i detta brinnande inferno, denna hemska skönhet av hetta och värme. Vattnet i tjärnen bubblade och fräste när det förångades, marken skakade medan dansen fortsatte, snabbare än någonsin. Jag kände hur mitt hår fattade eld men kunde inte känna smärtan. Tiden stod stilla, tusentals år flöt förbi på ett ögonblick. En enorm tryckvåg vällde ut från mitten och knuffade ned mig på marken. Allt brann, inget undgick eldens ihärdiga lågor. Jag hostade och andades in rök när mina lungor kämpade för att få luft.
Sedan kom regnet. Ett piskande, hårt regn som kändes som hagel mot huden. Elden var borta, men skadan var redan skedd, allt var borta. Jag såg mig omkring på de förkolnade rester av mina vänner. Djuren återvände långsamt medan tårarna målade ränder i mitt sotfläckiga ansikte. Allt var svart och förstört, marken täckt av aska medan en vissen blomma sakta dalade till marken, en skugga av sitt forna jag. Döden hade tagit trädgården i sitt iskalla grepp.

Lavinia-and-Amelie-Foto-Alex-Valcu.

Interview with Lavinia and Amelie Valcu, two creative students of Nobla School in Solna, Stockholm. Laureates of Nobla prize 2020 in Literature (age group 10-12 years) and Art & Design (age group 6-9 years) respectively. Amelie also is laureate of the Nobla Prize in Literature year 2019 (age group 6-9 years). The main goal of the school is to create the best opportunities for students to develop through academia in art & design, literature, science, and interdisciplinary areas. Nobla School Solna celebrates Nobel Day every year.


Please tell us about yourselves.

Amelie
My name is Amelie Valcu and I am 9 years old. I live in Solna in Stockholm County and have several interests. My activities are Ringette, chess, and drums/percussion.
What I like about Ringette is that you work in a team, but still can have different things you are good at, everybody can fit in.
Chess is the opposite of Ringette; you play on your own, are sitting still, and are working only with your brain. It is however still a lot of fun when you are playing in a club and you meet the other club members. Now during Corona, this is however unfortunately not possible; you have to play online almost all the time, but it is fun as well.
I like to sing and play music, that is why a got interested in this instrument. In drums, the best thing is to learn the sense of rhythm, and to be able to really get involved in what you are playing, become a part of the comp, or whatever you are playing.
In school, I always try to be creative and to be a good friend. I always want to cooperate with others and to help whenever needed.


Lavinia
Hi, I turned eleven on the 10th of December and I live with my family (mum: Diana, dad: Alex, younger sister: Amelie) in Solna. In my spare time, I play chess and a rather unusual ice sport called Ringette. I love to read and write, and I dream about becoming an author. I write a school magazine called Top Class which I publish every month and distribute in my class 5a. So far, I have issued eight numbers.


1.HOW DID YOU START THE WRITING?


Amelie:
I started writing a long time ago, perhaps before I even started school. When I write it feels as if I become a part of the story as if I am part of what is happening in the tale.

Lavinia:
I have always loved books and I have wanted to become an author for as long as I can remember. When I was younger, I thought that there is no job where you can read books (which there actually is, but I did not know it back then), so then I wanted to kind of “give back a little of all that I had received”. Later on, I discovered the fascination with writing and started to not only read, but also write stories in my spare time. It is just absolutely fantastic to be able to create my own stories and let all of my fantasy worlds take shape outside of my head, let the letters embody my thoughts.


2.WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SUBJECT IN WRITING LITERATURE?


Amelie:
I usually write in the fantasy genre, but from time to time I also write about things that can happen in reality.


Lavinia:
I have almost only written fantasy, but lately, I have also become more aware of the slightly more mysterious. I think that what I am reading at the moment affects a lot about what I write when before I only read fantasy, it became fantasy that I wrote. I still read a lot of fantasy but I have also started reading a little more „mythical” stories.


3.WHY DID YOU CHOOSE NOBLA SCHOOL SOLNA? COULD YOU PLEASE TELL US ABOUT THIS SCHOOL MORE? HOW MANY STUDENTS YOU HAVE AND WHAT IS THE SCHOOLS PROFILE?


Amelie:
My parents liked the profile the schools had when I was little and signed me up for the preschool associated with the school so that I would get priority in the queue for the preschool class.
The school has about 400 students and used to have a mathematical profile. When I started Nobla School Solna was named Alfa School, now in connection with the name change it is part of a network of schools with high ambitions and expectations of students.


Lavinia:
Nobla School, which was previously called Alfa School, has long had a good reputation, so we really wanted to get enrolled here. However, I did not get a spot at once… I actually switched to Nobla School last year (I started there in fourth grade when they could take in more students after creating two classes for that grade), I previously studied at Vittra School, which is only a few hundred meters from Nobla.

Nobla School is a private school that previously had a specialization in math/science, but they were forced to remove the extra math classes due to a change in the syllabus when I started, which made it mandatory with more time spent on physical training. It was of course sad, but recently I received the good news that I was welcome to in-depth lessons in science that would start after the Christmas holidays. If I am not mistaken, I think there are about 400 students attending the school and 28 in each class.


4.WHO HELPED YOU, WHO IS YOUR BIGGEST SUPPORT?


Amelie:
The ones that have supported me the most have always been my parents. When I was younger, they helped me to come up with new ideas and opened new paths in life for me.
Also when I read I get inspiration from the authors, how they express themselves and form the story. The reason that I write so much fantasy is that it is the genre I read the most. I read books my older sister had read and started imitating what she wrote.


Lavinia:
My parents give me very much support, they give me feedback, help me go through my texts and help to brainstorm ideas (especially for the magazine).


5.DO YOU HELP EACH OTHER OR WORK ON YOUR OWN?


Amelie:
I tend to mostly write on my own. I often sit quietly by myself in my room and concentrate. It has happened that I on occasions have worked with a friend, but usually not.


Lavinia:
I and Amelie work completely on our own, and we do not even always read each other’s stories.


6.CURRENTLY YOU ARE A LAUREATES OF NOBLA PRIZE OF LITERATURE WHICH YOU RECEIVED UNDER NOBEL DAY, WHAT DID YOU WRITE ABOUT AND HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THAT?

Lavinia-and-Amelie-Foto-Alex-Valcu.


Amelie:
When I last year started to write my story I had no idea that I would win with it, I hadn’t even planned on submitting it! When I decided to contribute with my story I thought that someone who at the time was in third grade would win, someone who would be superior to me in the contest. But to my great surprise, it was me.
My contribution was about a girl who lives with her parents and two sisters. She starts to hear voices in her head that warn her about “the evil ones”. Then her house explodes and her parents are still inside!
Now, a year later, when I read my story, I cannot understand that the jury chose it to become the winning piece. I am happy to say that I write far better now than I did then.


Lavinia:
I wrote a rather mysterious short story about Stockholm where a woman, who is never mentioned by name, ends up in a fabulous garden in the middle of the city. The small forest is like a living creature that pulls her into a swirling dance that hides both the joy of life and the pain of what awaits. And suddenly the beautiful park turns into a burning inferno when lightning strikes, the young woman is left alone when the forest has annihilated itself.


7.DO YOU CREATE OTHER THINGS EXCEPT LITERATURE, I HEARD YOU HAVE A LOT OF INTERESTS LIKE CHESS AND RINGETTE, COULD YOU PLEASE TELL US ABOUT YOUR ACHIEVEMENTS?

Amelie-during-a-Ringettematch-Miniringen-in-Solna-Foto-Alex-Valcu.
Lavinia-during-a-Ringettematch-Miniringen-in-Solna-Foto-Alex-Valcu.


Amelie:
I draw a lot in my spare time, and that Is probably why I won the Art & Design price this year 🙂 Yes, as I mentioned earlier, I play both chess and ringette, and also drums/percussion.
What I am best at is probably ringette, even though I am one of the youngest on the team. You play in an ice hockey rink and you are 5 players from each team out on the ice simultaneously plus the goalkeeper. You play with a rubber ring, and the sticks look like hockey sticks without the blade. If you have the ring, you may not cross any of the blue lines; you have to pass the ring over those lines to another player. There is a thin, red line on each side of the rink. On the side closest to the goal cage, there can only be three players from each team at a time, plus the goalkeeper. In ringette, you are not allowed to tackle or have a high stick. If there is a goal or if you break a rule, there is not a face-off like in ice hockey, instead, one of the teams gets the ring to start the game again in one of the big circles. If it’s a goal, the team that let it in will get the ring in the circle in the middle. If someone breaks a rule, the opposing team gets the ring in the circle that is closest, or it becomes the goalkeeper’s ring. I can be very fast, and accelerate quite well, I think. I have been playing for about 6 years.

Lavinia-as-goalie-in-ringette-during-a-match-Foto-Alex-Valcu.


Drums is the activity I have been doing for the shortest amount of time, about 1,5 years. It is fun to have lessons and to learn new things, but the upcoming semester seems to be held on distance via Zoom or the like, and that will probably not be as much fun, I think.
In the last couple of months also chess has been held on distance, we have received home assignments and had lessons on Zoom. Before we always used to meet up and play, but now it is not possible.

Amelie-playing-the-drums-Foto-Alex-Valcu.

At the moment it is the holidays of course so we would have had a break anyhow, but how the upcoming semester will look like nobody knows.


In chess, my best placing I think is 13th place in the Swedish School-Championships in the age group 5-8 years old (fall 2019) and 7th place in the Swedish School-Championships for girls in the age group under 10 years old (winter 2020). In a Stockholm Junior Grand Prix Championship, I have taken 3d place in my age group. I have also competed in open competitions where all ages are mixed.


Lavinia:
I started playing chess in the club Solna SS when I was six years old, that was after I quite a long time before discovered the old worn-out chess game at home and wondered what it was. Then the game had fallen a bit into oblivion until my family and I was in Kungsträdgården in Stockholm on a „try-on-day” where you got to try a few different sports, including chess. I spent the day in the chess tent while tirelessly playing (and losing) against the old men who came there to represent chess. At that time I was only about four years old, but after about two years I started in a chess club, on the initiative of my mother (who herself played when she was young).


I have since been a member of that particular club but also been a side member of other clubs to get more training opportunities. During the past season, I trained in the chess club Trojanska Hästen (The Trojan Horse) and Solna SS, plus two hours of training, once a week, with Grand Master Pia Cramling.


I have competed in both the open group and the group for girls in the Swedish Championships (ie in my age category), came second in the Swedish School-Championships age group 10 years old (became the best-placed girl in the entire competition), and won the Swedish Championships for girls 2019 in the age group under 10 years old. I have also won Stockholm Junior Grand Prix Finals in my age group and a Stockholm Junior Grand Prix Championship. In addition, I have competed in open competitions where all ages are mixed.
Here is a short description of the ringette because it is such an unknown sport.


Ringette is an exciting team sport on the ice at a high pace. The game is similar to hockey, but there are many rules that differentiate sports. You play with a stick (like a hockey stick but without a blade, so it is completely straight) and our „puck” is a hollow rubber ring that you put your stick in. Originally it was only a women’s sport, but now the rules in Sweden have changed so guys can join. Despite that, it is still 99% girls, the sport was invented due to that girls, at that time, were not allowed to play hockey. It is a lot of fun and I really recommend it to anyone who likes to skate! Unfortunately, we just received the news that the ice rinks will be closed for more than a month due to the pandemic, and it may be extended. Sad, I used to train three to four days a week.


Ringette is a very small sport in Sweden with only two clubs in the whole country, Ulriksdals SK and Sollentuna RC (I am a member of USK). Few people even know what it is, but even though it can be a bit boring not to play as many matches as, for example, football, it is also an advantage and creates a cozy atmosphere when everyone knows one another.

I started playing ringette when I was five and have absolutely loved the sport ever since. Now I play in USK’s Minior team, for the last year and will next season join the Youth team.


Picture of my team ast year MINIOR

8.DO YOU FEEL THAT YOUR ACHIEVEMENTS ARE APPRECIATED ON EQUAL RIGHT COMPARING WITH BOYS? WHAT WOULD YOU ADVICE OTHER GIRLS IN YOUR AGE?


Amelie:
I have not felt that I have been treated differently so much, no. In ringette, which is originally a sport for women, definitely nothing there. In the drum/percussion lessons, it is only a small group, so there is no mistreatment there. In chess, it is a little bit different. I have certainly not been looked at strangely because I am a girl, not at all. But here it feels like it is a more male-dominated world. There are far more men playing chess than women, there has never been a female world champion, and several other things… But there are some competitions for girls/women only and in some competitions, there is a prize for best-placed girl/woman. These things are intended to get more women to play and for those who are already playing to become more interested in chess. I like that. The Netflix series “The Queen’s Gambit” has got more people playing, especially girls. If you are over 16 you might want to see it 🙂


To girls who feel that they are looked down on because of their gender, I want to say that they should not give up, and that everyone should have the same opportunities to become professionals in whatever it is you are doing; football, hockey, basketball… whatever. YOU can be whatever you want!

Lavinia:
No, I have actually not experienced anything like this, instead there are very many positive arrangements in chess (where girls are, in number, inferior), there are for example „Best girl prize” and girls’ competitions to motivate women to play.
To all girls: Fight. You must always fight to achieve your goals, no matter what they are. It is not always fun, it can be downright awful to sit and correct your text, to memorize long end games in chess, to repeatedly shoot rings trying to hit a spot on the rink. But you have to do it anyway, you just have to decide if it is worth it – and usually it is.


9.WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS WITHIN THESE DIFFERENT AREAS?


Amelie:
In chess, I do not but in so much effort, but in the other sports I hope to get quite far! In drums, I like to join a band when I get older.
In ringette, I work my way up in the teams and would like to play on the national team at some point, like some of my coaches, and represent Sweden in a World Championship!


Lavinia:
I do not know if I have any specific goals, but I dream of publishing a book before I turn fifteen. Does it count as a goal? Then I would like to win the Swedish Championships for girls in the age group under 13 years old and of course, my dream is to play on the National team in Ringette.


10.WHO ARE YOUR BIGGEST IDOLS WITHIN THESE DIFFERENT AREAS?


Amelie:
My idols in chess are probably famous, female chess players like for example Pia Cramling. I also like the current world champion, Magnus Carlsen, from Norway. He usually plays fun openings, and his games are usually quite interesting. In ringette, I admire most of my coaches who play on the national team. When I see them skate, I think they look so cool and think “I want to be like them”!
I have not yet gotten so much into the drum world’s masters, but I definitely want to be like my teacher and other great drum pros.

Lavinia:
I have several idols within my writing; J.K. Rowling who wrote the absolutely incredible books Harry Potter (I have them all at home, plus extra books, and I have a whole shelf with only Harry Potter things), but also the slightly lesser-known author Kim M. Kimselius who both writes good fiction, but also has published several books on writing. I have one at home and it is so full of writing joy that you just want to rush to the computer and start the next story. She actually lives in Eringsboda, Blekinge, where my grandfather has a summer house, and she has actually signed two of my books!


In chess, I do not think that I have a true idol, but my coach Grand Master Pia Cramling is Sweden’s strongest female player and has been one of the best female players in the world, so obviously one looks up to her. Also, a girl named Alva Ling Tran who is a strong junior player is probably a bit of my idol in the chess game and I hope that someday I will be just as good (however, I know the family so it is not directly an idol in that sense).
In the ringette, I look up to the incredibly talented national team player Emilia. But I also know her so I do not know if it counts as an idol either 🙂

  1. 11.IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WOULD LIKE TO ADD?

  2. Amelie:
    I would like to say that if you just sit at home during these times and play computer games and watch TV, you should do something more. Take a walk every day, go on distance training; a train, or move in any way! Man needs exercise, to be trapped inside for several weeks is not good for us.
    I try to do 100 push-ups every day except on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and I try to get outdoors in some way every day. If you absolutely do not want to or are unable to go outside, then at least do some kind of exercise at home!

  3. Lavinia:
    “Do not think that someone else is going to read what you are writing. Write to yourself, something you want to read yourself. Dive into the story and enjoy what you write. That is when the story will become its’ best!” Kim M. Kimselius writes in her book “Finding joy in writing”. These are words of wisdom I think all writers should follow.

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