People like to complain about the weather. In Atlanta it’s either too hot, too humid or too rainy. Not this time though—no “Hotlanta,” just happy faces. It rained before. It rained after. But during this four-day event it was the nicest you could wish for.

Chalmers University of Technology in Göteborg, Sweden, founded in 1829, currently has about 12,000 students. The number of (living) Chalmerists with a degree is a lot higher, about 57,000, in 115 countries. An alumni organization, Chalmersska Ingenjörsföreningen (abbreviated CING) started in 1907. Now CING has 18 divisions, 10 of which are in Sweden. The other eight are in various European countries, Asia, Australia, the U.S. and Canada.

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The CING here in the United States started in 1953. Nowadays we meet once a year for an “annual meeting,” which is actually a four-day mini convention, always the weekend before Memorial Day in different locations. This year it was Atlanta. People came from the east, west, north and south, and ranged in age from 20 to 90.

We always start with a pea soup dinner.
The day is carefully chosen to fit the Swedish tradition that dictates that pea soup must be served on Thursdays only. So this dinner consists of genuine Swedish pea soup, made of Swedish peas from IKEA, Swedish “punsch” (the yellow, sweet liqueur, produced from arrack, preferably served hot!) and Swedish pancakes. We sing Swedish punsch songs and feel extremely Swedish. The evening is actually not organized by CING but by its sister organization Friends of Chalmers, whose purpose is fundraising for scholarships. Every year Friends of Chalmers is able to present a scholarship to an American student for a two-year study at Chalmers in Göteborg.
Friday was a busy day. We visited the Thomas Concrete plant and lab in Doraville, GA—one of their 22 locations in Greater Atlanta only. We learned that concrete is not just concrete; there are hundreds of different recipes, all for different situations. Thomas Concrete started in 1955 in Karlstad, Sweden and today has 136 plants in Sweden, Germany, Poland and the U.S.

Our next visit was at Elekta, founded in 1972 by Lars Leksell, professor of neurosurgery at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm. The company is now a medical technology group with more than 3,700 employees around the world and with a wide range of equipment and services, from portable radiation stations to very large and complex oncology precision treatment and imaging systems.
During a coffee break on Friday, the Friends of Chalmers 2017 scholarship winner Rebecca Gillie was awarded her scholarship diploma from Chalmers’ President Stefan Bengtsson.

Touring the home town of CNN, Coca Cola...
Chalmers alumni eagerly await the Saturday evening festivities, but first they sightsee! Downtown Atlanta has a lot of attractions and our alumni transformed quickly into tourists, with cameras, sun hats, sunglasses and maps. They were all equipped with detailed instructions on what to see, such as the Centennial Olympic Park, CNN, the Skyview Ferris Wheel, High Museum of Art and much more. Some of us went on a walking tour to see John Portman’s famous architecture. Some said hello to Mr. John Pemberton, who raised his glass to us ... as much as is possible when you are a statue. He stands outside the World of Coca-Cola in his capacity as the inventor of Coca-Cola.

... in preparation for a "gask"
Finally everyone gathered at my house in Marietta—for gasque. And what is that? The Swedish word “gask” means feast, party. The word is believed to have originated from the card game "vira," popular in the 19th century. The spelling of gasque is used at Chalmers for students’ dinners and parties. Since long ago these parties have taken place in a special room at Chalmers, called gasquekällaren (the gasque cellar).
This evening we sat outside and enjoyed the warm weather, not hot, not humid. A few elements are mandatory when it comes to a gasque: herring, schnapps and a lot of singing—Swedish schnapps songs of course and preferably those from Chalmers. Then we had gravlax, Southern gumbo and Asian marinated steak. The finishing touch was the dessert, the Swedish princess cake, another mandatory item. Luckily we found the one and only Swedish lady in Atlanta who makes princess cake.

In addition to all the singing we were able to present 30 minutes of Chalmersspex songs. It goes back to 2009 when I taught a few of my singers in Vasa Drängar some songs from Chalmersspex, such as Caesarion, Henrik 8, Katarina and more. We became the only Chalmersspex performers in America. Our presentation at the gasque was greeted with approval, even from Chalmers’ president himself.
Again the weather gods were on our side. The last guest left at 1 a.m. Fifteen minutes later it started to rain.

Göran Rygert