Orientation course – Facts and entertainment nicely balanced
Ram Chandra Neapane from Nepal and Eunice Ackom Sampene from Ghana took part in the orientation course for BSU master students. How did they benefit? And how was their first encounter with the Danes?
By Jan Kjær, journalist and consultant specialized in development. Owner of Better-World.dk.
“The whole idea of getting out of Copenhagen and going to a new place was good,” says Eunice Ackom Sampene.
The 23 year old Ghanaian woman was together with 37 year old Ram Chandra Neupane from Nepal among the 31 Building Stronger Universities (BSU) master students in Denmark who attended an orientation course in September 2013.
The three day course took place in Denmark’s second biggest town Aarhus at the Danhostel and the students were introduced to the BSU programme and to Denmark and the Danes.
Among others, they met with Vijay Jain, an intercultural specialist, Michael Aastrup Jensen, Member of Parliament, and Preben Friis and Lena Bjørn, actors with the DACAPO Theatre. A visit to a Danish primary school and a farm were also included.
Visits are highlights
Ram does not hesitate when asked to describe what the best thing about the introductory course was. He found the school visit to be a ‘real interesting experience’:
“The teaching system and pedagogy is very different from ours. Teachers here cooperate with students as friends. It was interesting to see how they discussed things in a group. We visited a math class and it was quite interesting. The teacher was not memorizing, but gave examples related to daily life.”
Ram was also impressed to see that pupils have laptops. And in health class there was a heart made of rubber, so the pupils really felt there was a person in front of them having problems.
A visit to a farm was also popular.
“I was surprised to see that the farm was so big, both in size and number of cows. It had a lot of equipment, for instance, a robot to milk the cows. In Nepal it is poor people, who have no other jobs, who are farmers. It is quite different here in Denmark.”
Danes are no longer shocking
For Eunice the highlight of the course was intercultural expert Vijay Jain and his introduction to Danish culture and values.
“He made me understand why things in Denmark are so different. So weird. I stopped getting shocked about the way the Danes behave. For instance, when you meet a Dane they talk a lot and next day they ignore you. I thought we were friends. They expect you to approach them and if you don’t, they don’t greet you.”
Vijay Jain also shed light on the Danish way of bringing up children.
“You see a child shouting out the lungs at the mum, and the mother just calms her. In Africa that is not accepted in public. You could get spanked or disciplined in some way. Not in Denmark!!” Eunice wonders.
The appearance of Danish Member of Parliament, Michael Aastrup Jensen, was also an eye- opener for Eunice. He presented the political and historical aspects of Denmark.
“He opened our eyes when he brought up the debate of lifestyle of politicians. They are not extravagant living in huge houses and driving big cars. They are not the richest in society. That sparked a debate and us Africans were almost upset,” Eunice says and elaborates:
“You would never meet an MP living in a one room apartment and they always have the latest car technology. In Ghana people get into politics for personal gains – economically and financially. They are there to help their own family. In Denmark they actually go to work. We are hoping to see the same happening at home. But it may be a dream,” Eunice reflects.
Smooth course flow
Both Eunice and Ram were generally very happy with the introductory course.
“The course was very systematic, punctual and very smooth, but it would have been a bit better if there were more visits included, for instance, it would have been interesting to see typical Danish village life,” says Ram.
Eunice liked that it was a weekend outside Copenhagen in another location, even though it was long trip.
“We saw other parts of Denmark – not cooking your own food. The cheese cake was really good,” she laughs.
“It was like a camping feeling. You interact more. We came back more as friends than we were before. That was great,” Eunice continues.
Serious and entertaining
Ram and Eunice also agree that the contents of the course were fine. Generally, a good balance was struck between the serious and more entertaining parts.
Eunice liked when the actors Preben Friis and Lena Bjørn from DACAPO Theatre came and the social evening: “We were dancing around some chairs. When the music stopped you had to find a chair to sit down. And all the time there was one chair was missing. That was entertaining.”
More excursions needed
But what was missing on the course?
Eunice feels that it would have been nice to get to see more places of interest in around Aarhus:
“When you are in a new place for the first time, you would appreciate some guidance. The organizers should not expect us to google and do everything by ourselves. I think it is part of the whole ‘individuality’ of the Danish culture.”
Furthermore, the whole three day long programme should not have been held at the Danhostel.
“It got a bit boring and there could have been more fun and picturesque stuff. When we were boarding the bus going somewhere on a visit we were happy,” Eunice says.
Ram sums up: “More visits to see more classes and more villages.”
Eunice Ackom Sampene, Ghana,
23 years old.
Holds a bachelor in English and Political Science.
From Ashanti region, but lives with her parents in Accra.
Just finished one year of mandatory National Service under the Ministry of Defence.
Has been to The US for two summers 2010-11 staying with some family and has visited China, Thailand, Kenya, Nigeria as well asother African countries.
In Denmark she is studying International Business Communication and Multicultural Communications in Organisations at Copenhagen Business School until 2015
Ram Chandra Neupane, Nepal,
37 years old.
Master Degree in Education majoring in Mathematics.
Married, a son of 18 months (“I miss him too much,” says Ram). Lives with wife, son, younger brother and parents in Pokhara. This is his first experience to be outside of Nepal.
Now pursuing his second master Anthropology of Education and Globalisation at University of Århus in Emdrup until 2015.
Both Ram and Eunice arrived in Denmark on 22nd of August 2013.
Programme for the orientation course
Thursday, September 19
19.30 Arrival in Aarhus
20.30 Opening of the course by Ms Lene Christina Mosegaard and Ms Eva Thaulow, DFC Course Co-ordinators
Friday, September 20
09.00 Visit to a Danish primary school
13.30 Visit to Karens Minde, a Danish Farm
17.00 ‘Introduction to Building Stronger Universities’ by Susanne Lildal Amsinck and Lene Marie Andersen BSU Platform Coordinators
19.30 Social Evening
Saturday, September 21
09.30 ‘Introduction to Danish Culture and Values.’ Lecture by Vijay Jain, Intercultural Expert
13.30 ‘The Political System in Denmark’ by Michael Aastrup Jensen, Member of Parliament
19.00 ‘Introduction to the Danish Everyday Life’ by the DACAPO Forum Theater
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