Last Saturday, Culture Ways had the pleasure of hosting a cozy event around the city of Aarhus, where everyone shared their memories and experiences in the city.
Our small group met up at Sager der Samler around 11:00 and we started with Abdullah’s story; coming to Denmark one year ago, he was drawn to this place not knowing why and then, some time later, that is where he found his first job. Abdullah is now working together with Abdulghafar in the project ANAOBABA TV, connecting refugee fathers, their children back home, and involving them in the local community.
“This feels like home, I think it was meant to be” – Abdullah
We started our walk and went to Godsbanen, one of Aarhus main cultural spots. Starting in 2012, the place is now a melting pot of arts and crafts with a concert venue, manual workshops, theatre, and all kinds of cultural events. It was also there that I saw my first concert in Danish; the psych-rock band De Underjordiske performed in Radar back in September and I have to admit I was surprised that Danish could ever sound so beautiful. In that mist of normcore 20-somethings holding their analogue cameras I felt hypnotized. From that day on, I wanted to know everything that Danes were saying and I started being serious about my Danish classes.
We stopped for a cup of tea at the small Café Venligbo, a place run by volunteers with the purpose of joining refugees and Danes under the same roof. There, we sat outside and enjoyed the (fairly) warm weather to share some more stories. Abdullah was kind enough to tell us about his journey from Syria to Denmark and as we shared more and more, we went from a group of strangers doing a cultural walk to a group of friends having some ‘hygge’ and eating chocolate.
Moving on, we went through the Business Centre to Aros, the city’s most recognizable beacon and a place where I like to hang out to write my stories and poems. After hearing some of the group’s experiences, I shared my most recent poem – and also my first one in English – about my experiences in Denmark as an immigrant, which I have originally written for Løves bogcafe poetry night, under the theme of ‘participation’.
As we walked to the next stop, I could feel us getting closer to each other. It was clear by now that most of us had been through the same experiences: trouble finding a job, the problem of learning the language properly, the difficulty in making friends, the lack of sun and physical contact. Luckily, we also had a Dane in our group; Cæcilie shared her story with us in the Latin Quarter and told us how Aarhus can also be weird for someone coming from other parts of Denmark. For example, if you want to party late, forget about it; here everything starts and ends early, and she has found herself on the street wanting to party and no place to go. We also talked about the fast-changing trends in the city and the need that people feel to fit in into smaller and smaller boxes – it’s hard to be a Dane, even for Danes.
We finished off in Drudenfuss, where Nadia shared with us her beautiful story of finding out she was pregnant with her first child, and how her life has changed since she first moved to Aarhus; how she wanted to be a cool smoking chef and ended up deciding on her career as a teacher. And how, eventually, she started her own company and founded Culture Ways. Most of all, we talked about how often life presents you with hard choices and how it is perfectly normal and okay not knowing what to do and going with the flow: sometimes things figure themselves out.
The tour ended in a hopeful and friendly note and we ended up exchanging phone numbers and arranging future dates with each other. Most of all, we learned how making a personal story common, you can connect with the people around you, and how listening and sharing are really valuable and essential qualities to all global-citizens. Exactly because of this, we have invited our participants to join us next Monday, the 6th of June, in VIA University College, for a participative session on the different kinds of listening, and how to improve your listening skills. “Listening Louder” will be free of charge and is directed at everyone: Danes and internationals, students and workers, young and old – because listening is the first step to knowing.