Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Finding my place

Two Danish ladies from the community attended my presentation on being a newcomer in Denmark that I gave this summer at the Herning Library. After the meeting they stayed behind to visit with me and to my amazement, to invite me to become a part of a women's organization in Herning. They asked if I had heard of Soroptimist International when I was living in the US, but surprisingly, I had not....which was a bit sad because it was actually founded in California in the early 1920s and has very strong connections to the United Nations!  So they gave me some information to read about the organization (which is the largest women's service organization in the world!) as well as about the local clubs here in Denmark and we agreed that after I had a chance to learn more about it, I could contact them for additional info.

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Soroptimist International, a worldwide organisation for women in management and the professions, is a global voice for women through Awareness, Advocacy and Action.


Our Vision

Soroptimist International is a vibrant, dynamic organisation for today’s professional and business women.  We are committed to a world where women and girls together achieve their individual and collective potential, realise aspirations and have an equal voice in creating strong, peaceful communities worldwide.
 

Our Mission

Soroptimists inspire action and create opportunities to transform the lives of women and girls through a global network of members and international partnerships.


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Well after quite a bit of research on my part and some really awesome nurturing on their part, I attended my first Soroptimist Herning meeting on Monday night. The club in Herning is one of 70 clubs in Denmark and has 41 members of which the oldest is 92 and the youngest is 32, and it was established in October 1971. They are involved in several global projects each year and work together for the furtherance of women's rights and women's education around the world. And a very cool fact is that the INTERNATIONAL president this year is FROM DENMARK!

Here is just one example of the work they are doing:


I was a bit unsure before I went....
a new group of people that I did not know...
everything in Danish....
my first step into a Danish community group without Mads...
everything in Danish...
and of course, everything in Danish....

But I have to say that on Monday night, I felt the MOST WELCOMED that I have felt (other than going to events for foreigners) since moving to Denmark. Every lady in that room came up to meet me, shake my hand and welcome me. They attempted to speak English to me, but when I replied in Danish, they switched over as well. They asked me questions all throughout the meal about my job at the Gymnasium and my life in the US and my family.....they were really interested! And several times during the night, they complimented MY DANISH! (yeah, I almost fainted every time... lol)
The ladies who had originally invited me made sure that I knew what was going on throughout the meeting and checked on me several times just make sure I was feeling comfortable.
IT WAS AWESOME.

I was, of course, the only "non-Dane" in the group, but it really felt like I belonged. Crazy, huh? Ladies of all ages, gathered together for one purpose.... it really was an awesome thing.

I am already looking forward to next month's meeting and getting involved with all the very worthy projects that the club is working on!

8 comments:

Nina Ø said...

You have experienced the Danish value of INCLUSIVENES. No one is left out. EVER. I went to an a festival dinner at inlaws several years ago and no one talked to me. They did not include me in anything. I ended up reading in a family room after the meal. That would never happen in Denmark or in my Danish family in America. Extreme efforts are made to include everyone to make them very comfortable.

Anonymous said...

Welcome to the great wide world of Soroptimist International! Check out http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=de&oe=UTF8&source=embed&msa=0&msid=117804068067760335716.0004444ec013fada1c49d&ll=51.22532,10.528327&spn=6.455268,18.588867&z=6 to see clubs in Germany http://madsandkelli.blogspot.com/2010/11/finding-my-place.html
YOu can find us on Facebook too.

Archaeogoddess said...

I'm very sorry this happened to you Nina, but I've had the exact opposite happen to me - I've been completely ignored by Danes at events. I've also (now that my Danish is much better) discovered that some of these people are saying disparaging things about me. Boy did they get a surprise when I said I understood them! Too bad they are family and I have to see them at least once a year.

I'd love to say that this doesn't happen where I come from - I can certainly say that my family wouldn't do such a thing, but there are assholes everywhere you go - in DK and in the US, in the UK, in India.

I also wish I could say that if you just were more positive or outgoing, these assholes would suddenly talk to you and you'd have a good time, but alas, it just isn't always the case. It is not a cultural thing, it is an asshole thing.

Sorry about the swearing, but I really despise assholes. :-)

Nuno said...

I think Nina Ø is wearing a particularly fine pair of rose-tinted spectacles.

Mads and Kelli said...

Nuno,
Nina Ø and I must shop at the same eye glass store. :-) I have been accused of wearing the same kind of glasses, but I can think of far worse things to be accused of....
I am ok with this one. :-)

May said...

I'm with Archaeogoddess, although I say arsehole. :)

- and pink is your colour, Kelli. You looked great at Jo's place. ;)

ladyfi said...

Sounds wonderful!

Nina Ø said...

I must add that even though I prefer a positve spin on "thinking" , I am not oblivious to the fact that "assholes exist". I just prefer not to respond to their point of view if they are not contributing to the dialogue. I do of course listen. The first office inside the newly created NASA (going to the moon in 10 years that President Kennedy announced) should have been proclaimed as the office of " It can't be done". All perspectives have a viable voice to contribute. That imaginary office of: "it cannot be done opinions" helped NASA go in the right direction and not waste time in the wrong directions. There are angry dissenting opinions and then there are thoughtful dissnenting opionion of " I disagree because...." We need to discern between them in the digital world and we need to recognize that ALL BEHAVIORS exist in some percentage in ALL cultures. Denmark is Majoritly Inclusive to its own folks and USA is majoritively Exclusive to it own folks. This can be supportive by facts.