Two Roskilde University (RUC) organisations, Studenterrådet and International Club, dismayed by the perceived segregation of Danish and foreign students on campus, earlier this month organised International Week to encourage more socialising among the groups. It was a resounding success.
Using beer, discussions, events and good old-fashioned fun, barriers were broken and students, of all nationalities, mingled with each other.
Initially described by one of its members as a “daunting prospect”, the organisations needn’t have worried about approaching students for their help, as everyone they asked said “yes”, making it “truly inspiring” to arrange such an event. Wanting to make everyone feel welcome, they invited many different organisations to collaborate. This resulted in anything and everything: from international food in the canteen to a Marxist debate about student fights in Chile and Canada.
There were international movie nights, sports tournaments, language exchange cafes and, of course, parties. There was even a workshop called ‘Danish Humour 101’, where two self-professed Danish ‘humour experts’ (aka students at RUC) tried to explain the ideas behind typical Danish humour. Some extremely interesting discussions followed, such as ‘Why are you so offensive?’. The conclusion was that Danes can joke about just about anything, from paedophilia to royalty, but when a foreigner tries to joke about Denmark, it is just NOT okay.
Besides the humourous and fun events, one of the main goals was to allow anyone interested to have an impact on the international strategy at RUC. To accomplish this, Hanne Leth, the pro-rector of RUC, presented the existing strategy and then held an open discussion about it. A number of students from various programmes, both Danes and non-Danes alike, participated. This allowed the topic to be discussed in a good atmosphere. The final ideas were summarised and handed over during the closing reception.
The closing reception was successful, and as an indication of how important the issue is, Ib Poulsen, the rector of RUC, and Henrik Stougaard, the vice-mayor of Roskilde, took their time to stop by and give speeches.
All in all, it was a successful week. As one Danish student remarked: “Wow, this is pretty cool. I did not know we had so many different nationalities at RUC.”
Well now they do!