At work and at play | Integration vs internationalisation

The article is written with Syrian refugees, among others, in mind (photo: iStock)
May 6th, 2012 6:38 am| by admin
facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmail

Integration is a concept that I first heard frequently when we moved to Denmark. To me, integration seems like a Danish concept because out of all the countries where I have lived, this is the one where integration has such an important role.

 

I lived in Japan in the late 1990s where there was no discussion of integration. At the time, the Japanese were convinced that their language was too difficult for any ‘gaijin’ (foreigner) to learn. All of our cultural mistakes were quickly forgiven as they thought that a foreigner could never truly comprehend the local ways and customs. There the emphasis was on ‘internationalisation’ as they called it. It was not about foreigners integrating their culture, but about the Japanese becoming more international with the help of foreigners.

 

This is not the case here in Denmark. We get frowned upon for not using the conveyor belt separator at the supermarket and we need to learn the cycling rules quickly or we risk a real telling-off. We are expected to assimilate into the local culture and become Danish as quickly as possible, whereas in Japan, we were never expected to even pretend to be Japanese. These two views are interesting in their contrast, but they certainly have not prevented me from enjoying life in either country.

 

Here we appreciate the subsidised Danish lessons, having the same welfare rights as the Danes, and fitting in without standing out as foreigners. In Japan, we were always reminded that we were different and we were treated differently. Ultimately, we are happy to be here in Copenhagen, just as we were happy to live in Tokyo. What is important is that we are always learning something new about the local culture. 

 

Having started an international preschool with tuition in English, I am not promoting integration. Rather, I am creating employment for local residents, including Danes, and am thereby participating in the local economy. This could be considered as some kind of integration, couldn’t it?

 

Looking back on my experience in Japan, maybe I am helping to internationalise Copenhagen in the hope that more foreigners will enjoy their time here, while also opening their children’s minds to a culturally diverse environment. In its own way, it makes me feel more integrated socially – and I am enjoying every minute of it.

Danish municipalities have used words like ‘parasitic’ or ‘spoiled’ when describing autistic people (photo: iStock)
Parents of autistic children feel violated by public employees
Parents of autistic children in Denmark feel badly treated and often violat...
The article is written with Syrian refugees, among others, in mind (photo: iStock)
Humanitarian head invites asylum-seekers to seek Denmark
Michala Bendixen, the chairman of the humanitarian organisation Refugees We...
In 1979 and 1980, the Bonamia parasite eradicated the entire population of flat oysters in Europe (photo: iStock)
Dead oysters in Limfjord raising concerns
A larger number of dead oysters than normal in the Limfjord in northwestern...
Photoshop away the cables and Copenhagen is under alien attack (photo: Hasse Ferrold)
The bridge that has made the River Kwai one look like a weekend job
After six years of waiting and speculation, Copenhagen has taken a monument...
International demand is soaring (photo: Carnby)
International demand encouraging Danes to make medieval-style mead
It seems beer – even from the most obscure microbrewery – is too mainst...
At best, you end up with minus 0.5 percent less than you invested (photo: iStock)
Saving up for pension in Denmark guarantees you lose money
'Save up for 30 years and you lose a maximum of 0.5 percent on your investm...