The ballroom of City Hall is an impressive room that has hosted kings, queens and world leaders. On Tuesday afternoon it was the venue for the city’s welcome reception for foreign residents.
Head of business affairs Jakob Brandt from the Copenhagen Business Service welcomed the crowd of several hundred newcomers by playing Mariah Carey‘s ‘Without You’ on his phone, with the line “I can't live if living is without you”, referring to the importance the city places on its foreign residence.
After a presentation by Jakob Parby from the Museum of Copenhagen about the city’s history, it was time for City Hall’s trademark pancakes and some mingling. First stop, the Human Library, where the lesson was, don’t judge a book by its cover, especially if that “book” is a person.
In its simplest form, the Human Library is a mobile library that allows visitors have the chance to speak informally to “people on loan”. The Human Library seeks to break stereotypes by challenging the most common prejudices in a positive and humorous manner.
All the ‘books’ are volunteers who have experienced prejudice due to issues such as race, sex, age, sexual preference, class, religion, lifestyle choices or other aspects.
One of these waiting to be checked out of the Human Library was Sasha: a single parent living alone with her child in Amager. According to Sasha, ‘the stereotype that single parents are unable to hold a job or are unable to take care of their children is obsolete’.
The Human Library was an initiative by the Danish youth organisation Stop the Violence, which organised the first ever human library at the 2000 Roskilde Festival. Today, they have been set up in over 60 countries.
Other organisations present on Tuesday were the Copenhagen International Service, who organised the event, language school Københavns Sprogcenter and the Copenhagen Job Centre.
The welcome reception is organised every year and is part of the initiative to make foreigners feel more welcome in Copenhagen.
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