How 84 nationalities have learned to co-exist (psst, they’re kids!)

It was business as normal at Rygaards School on UN Day as the pupils came together to celebrate their diversity

This year again, we saw the United Nations come together on armed conflict, human rights, the environment and many other issues. We continue to show what collective action can do. We can do even more. In a world that is more connected, we must be more united. On United Nations Day, let us pledge to live up to our founding ideals and work together for peace, development and human rights.


So it goes without saying that the author of these words, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, would have been pretty impressed had he been in attendance at Rygaards School on October 24, where once again a memorable day of celebrations were enjoyed by everyone present. 


At Rygaards, UN Day is an occasion for pupils to come together to eat, play games and discover more about their respective cultures. Rygaards is unusual – it has a Danish school and an international school existing very happily together under the same roof. And UN Day is the perfect opportunity for the two sides to join each other and strengthen their ties.


The contented children enjoyed a magic mixture of good food and time off schoolThe children enjoy the mingling for different reasons. “I liked making the paper chains with the Danish children,” said one of the international pupils. “I liked how the others looked in their special clothes,” was a response from the Danish children present.


But kids being kids, there were some things they could all agree on. “I enjoyed eating with my friends,” said one. “The best thing was that we had no lessons,” said another. 


The international school currently includes children of 84 different nationalities. Their common languages are English and a little Danish. UN Day gives the children a chance to branch out and learn a few words from other languages and to play games and sing songs from different countries. Many of the children also dress in their national costumes and they make a colourful sight alongside the bright flags draped around the school hall.


But the highlight of the annual celebrations is undoubtedly the food. As they always do, the parents this year put in a huge amount of effort to provide wonderful and exotic dishes from their homelands.  And as they always do, the children sampled them most enthusiastically. If there was a favourite out of a line-up that included vegetable cutlets, samosas, colcannon and frikadeller, it was a predictable one. “I liked the yummy cakes,” said one as another hundred heads nodded in agreement. 


“Denmark itself is growing more diverse as the 21st century progresses,” said a spokesperson for the school. 


“Danes live temporarily and permanently in countries right around the globe, and more and more people from other nationalities are moving to Denmark and finding a home here. Rygaards International School is simply a microcosm of our increasing globalisation.”

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