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July 12, 2005 > What's in a name?

What's in a name?

Kenneth Edberg had no idea when, years ago, he registered with Yahoo for Internet service that his name would catch the attention of another Ken Edberg halfway around the globe. Curiosity and a simple search had led Ken Edberg of Ludvika, Sweden to Ken Edberg of Fremont's computer. As correspondence between the two grew over the years, the Swedish Edberg asked if his counterpart in Fremont could help him. Cautiously, Edberg answered that he would try, but asked what help was needed? His Swedish counterpart answered that his son, Christopher, was taking part in a high school summer program to study business practices abroad and would like to come to the United States. Would it be possible for Christopher to visit Ken in Fremont?

The request was startling. It turns out that Ken Edberg in Fremont has three children - daughter, Michelle; son, Sean and his eldest son named Christopher! After some deliberation with his wife, Barbara, Ken agreed and began to ask friends for permission to visit their workplaces and made preparations for Christopher's visit. Christopher's friend, Fredrik Andersson, also wanted to make the trip but his search for a host family had met with little success. The Edberg's were now to play host to two teenagers from Sweden.

On June 3, Christopher and Fredrik arrived in San Francisco and, after a day of rest, "our adventures began," said Ken. Both about to enter their senior year in high school, the two 17-year-old travelers joined Ken, a computer hardware specialist, in visits to a variety of small businesses including a printing operation, construction, a property management company and a money management company. Of course, a trip to the Bay Area would not be complete without sightseeing and Christopher and Fredrik did their share including a close encounter with the Pacific Ocean.

Their mischievous side emerged as each was able to edge the other into the cold waters unexpectedly. Ken cited their playfulness when he accompanied them on a hike up Mission Peak. The boys were able to quickly move up the trail, while Ken gamely trailed along. On occasion, the two waited for him and just as he reached them, they would jump up saying, "Let's get going"- so much for giving older folks a break.

Asked about extracurricular activities, Christopher cited soccer and Fredrik likes "floor hockey" similar to field hockey, played inside on foot without ice or skates. Both agreed that shopping trips to Stockholm are fun and they use the Internet extensively. Techo - electronic music - is preferred by the duo.

Both will prepare a report of their experiences as a requirement of their class in International Practices. When asked about differences in management, Christopher and Fredrik responded that businesses appeared similar to what they see in Sweden. Their hometown, Ludvika, is a small city of approximately 25,000 about 220 km from Stockholm. The primary industry of the area is transmission and distribution activities of ABB, a power generation and automation giant.

As their three-week visit came to a close, they agreed that it was time to go home. With written diaries and pictorial memories packed and ready, they left San Francisco on June 24 on a flight to Paris connecting to a flight for Stockholm and the final leg back to Ludvika. The Edberg families are now closer than ever, having shared much more than electronic messages.

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