Friday, September 2, 2011

Volunteering in Denmark

Hey everyone!

I'm going to talk about volunteering in this post as I know volunteering is very important to many of you and you do a lot of it every semester. Additionally, I am in the "Service Learning Seminar" this semester in which you are assigned a volunteer site along with enrollment in a class which brings an academic component to the volunteering you do while in Copenhagen. I also applied for and was accepted into a psychology volunteer program (which is entirely separate from the course and site I mentioned already) in which I was assigned another volunteer site with an organization that has more of a psychology focus in its goal. So between the both of those sites I will be volunteering about 5-6 hours a week. And lastly, I went on a semi walking tour in West Copenhagen for an afternoon (with my Service Learning Seminar course) where I visited multiple organizations that are primarily organized and run by volunteers.

So, my volunteer participation this semester is with 1. DIA (a Muslim school in Copenhagen) and 2. The SKC (which stands for a something (a danish word I do not know) kontact center (they spell contact with a k) and is an organization that helps people with mild mental disabilities). With DIA I will be helping to teach English to Muslim students of different ages. The school is a private school and all schools (I think) are required to teach English early on. Because of this, many schools welcome the help of volunteers to assist in teaching English and to help the students with practicing speaking English. The SKC has a cafe and a counseling center where the users can come and either find someone to talk to, either for company or help, where they can just find some peace and relax, or where they can get a cheap meal in a friendly place. There are several types of these organizations around Copenhagen but the SKC is apparently one of the oldest. Furthermore, the different organizations have different focuses for the users, the SKC's focus is expression through art and has a studio for the users to paint (Other organizations might focus on something like participation in sports for example). They also organize an art fair where the user's art is showcased. And these users are mostly people who have difficulties because of their mental handicaps but they are not serious enough for the individuals to be institutionalized. In other words, they are mostly very friendly, come to the SKC voluntarily, and usually come regularly just for support. So my volunteer work will consist of assisting with normal activities in the center, interacting with the users (the people who come to these places are called users so I don't mean drug users, I just mean they are using the resources that organization provides), assist in the cafe, and to some degree participate in the assistance of these individuals. There is also some supervision that occurs with a psychologist. So all in all, a pretty sweet deal for me, a great opportunity to help people out, and a pretty unique experience to volunteer.

Now, for what I have learned from my course and from my short tour. There are a lot of organizations around Copenhagen that do a variety of things. For example, of the places I visited, one was an organization to give immigrants a place to stay in the city; another was a place where first/second/third generation immigrants are able to go to get help with school or learning Danish (this organization helps both adults and younger students); another was a concert venue that was run entirely by volunteers (except for one guy who was paid); another was a place where single parents were able to buy cheap clothes for children; and the last place was a cafe run by volunteers where everything was very organic, healthy, fair trade, all that good stuff. From what I understand, volunteering has been going on a lot longer in the US than in Denmark and really only in the last 20 years did a lot of these organizations start up (some have been around for much longer). Also a lot more of these types of organizations in the United States have to fund raise which the Danish organizations do not have to do nearly as much because they can get money from the government. And another thing of interest is that there is a big concern right now in Denmark with immigrants. Basically there has not been many immigrants to Denmark like ever, until the past 30 years or so. So now there is a significant amount of non-Danes living in Denmark and some people feel differently about the non-Danish population (I can talk about that more in the future if you guys want). Because of this some groups of immigrants have difficulty integrating into Danish society and getting jobs and things like that and there are some organizations (like the ones I mentioned) targeted at assisting these groups of people.

Okay so I've said a lot (I hope it was all interesting). If you guys want to know more about anything I talked about let me know! I'd be happy to talk about any of the organizations more or my volunteer experiences once they start (they will begin next week), just let me know!

Anyway, have a good weekend, I'll talk to you guys later!


And to Kynan, yes, there are a lot of old churches (all over Europe I think?). My school is actually in the historic part of Copenhagen so there are lots of old buildings and my town is old too. So both of these places have lots of old buildings including churches and whatnot. And it is tough here without a bubble shield. And I don't remember what else you asked so I'll get to it later.

(Erik, here is the origin of the bubble shield:
The bubble shield upgrade shows up around level 10 and is extremely helpful. But if you're really good, then you don't need one.)


  1. Well you should explore churches and take pictures with a disposable camera or something and post them on your blog!! CALL IT CHURCHAPALOOZA XL EUROPE EDITION.

    Also you should definitely talk more about danish perceptions of immigrants and foreigners in general that'd be interesting.

  2. Just so you know, it is very interesting! Very cool stuff. SO MUCH VOLUNTEERING. Also, how is your host family? Do you spend time with then, or is it more of just a place to stay?

  3. Alright Kynan, I'll talk about the immigration stuff more later. And I'll see what I can do about getting a cheap digital camera.

  4. ****Are we allowed to send you stuff through mail, or would that take like a zillion years to arrive to you?***
    -AND, wow, you are super busy!! By the way, I feel like you did an excellent job in choosing the places you were going to volunteer. I am also very curious about the immigration problem. What type of nationality groups are migrating to Denmark and how diverse is your school?