Outsiders

Grundtvigs Højskole is a traditional folk high school in Hillerød, Denmark.

Every year more refugees are coming to Europe. There were about 6,000 applications for refugee status in Denmark during 2016. To address this situation, the Danish government started a special refugee program at folk high schools all across Denmark. At these schools young refugees study Danish language, culture, history, and literature. Grundtvigs Folk High School is included in this program. In the spring of 2017, 10 of 150 Grundtvigs students attended as part of this integration project.

Though the Danish government has started paying more attention to this processes, integration into Danish society remains a challenge for refugees. No matter how many years some refugees live in Denmark, many still can’t – or won’t - call themselves Danish. The language, religion, and culture gaps are too big. This causes loneliness and a sense of detachment from mainstream Danish society.

Mohammed came to Denmark 20 years ago. He left Iraq with his elder brother after the first American invasion when he was only 8 years old.By Yaroslava Tarasova
Reshan is 25 years old. She grew up in Quamishli, Syria. A brutal civil war and increasing oppression of Kurds forced her family move to Denmark 6 years ago. They chose Denmark because her elder brother already lived there for a few years. By Yaroslava Tarasova
Mohammed and Reshan met at Grundtvigs. They often spend time in the living room with other refugees after classes.By Yaroslava Tarasova
Reshan is showing her arm. “When my family moved to Denmark to join my brother, I remained in Beirut. I felt very lonely there. I tried to commit suicide three times, and every time somebody saved my life."By Yaroslava Tarasova
Mohammed went to Grundtvigs via a program for ex-prisoners, sponsored by the Danish government. “The first time I went to jail I was 16 years old. I stole a car.By Yaroslava Tarasova
Reshan in her friend Mariam’s room. Mariam came to Denmark from Palestine. Refugee students normally live with Danish students for full language immersion. Mariam doesn’t have a roommate now so Reshan often stays in her room at night.By Yaroslava Tarasova
The folk high school does excursions to Protestant churches for refugee students to learn about foundations of Christianity, which is the predominant religion of Denmark. Mariam had never been to a Protestant church before.By Yaroslava Tarasova
Two days ago the police called Mohammed with a demand to go to a prison for a week for an earlier charge of driving a car without a license.He was very upset about it, because 8 months ago he made up his mind never to go to a jail again.By Yaroslava Tarasova
Grundtvigs folk high school has a tradition: every day students share news during lunch. Mohammed took this opportunity to tell everyone the story of his life.By Yaroslava Tarasova
Mohammed and Reshan.By Yaroslava Tarasova
“I’ve lived in Denmark for 20 years already, but I still can’t call myself Danish. I certainly borrow some traits from Danish people, but nevertheless, I will always remain a Muslim in foreign country.”By Yaroslava Tarasova

See Also

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