New cultural institute will help Syrians to integrate

Board member explains how the new organisation can help new arrivals

On Tuesday May 26, the Syrian Cultural Institute in Denmark held its opening ceremony at Global Copenhagen in Nørrebro.

Inspired by the Danish institute in Syria, which played an important role in Danish-Syrian relations before the outbreak of the civil war, a group of citizens of both nationalities have founded the country’s first Syrian institute, Det Syriske Kulturinstitut I Danmark.

The first leader of the institute has been confirmed as Professor Jakob Skovgaard-Petersen from the University of Copenhagen, who is an expert in Middle Eastern studies.

The institute will try to assist newly-arrived Syrians settling in Denmark – last year 5,401 Syrian refugees moved to Denmark compared to 1,760 in 2013 –mainly by putting them in touch with already-established, well-educated Syrians living here.

READ MORE: Record number of immigrants last year

Poignant poetry
The opening ceremony included interesting speeches by Skovgaard-Petersen and other members of the institute, along with a poetry reading by Jan Pêt Khorto.

The Kurdish writer and journalist, who is originally from Aleppo in Syria, came to Denmark as a political refugee in 2008. Since then, he has begun a whole new life in Denmark and he will sit on the board of the Syrian Cultural Institute.

At the opening, he presented touching self-written poems that dealt with the time he spent in a political prison in Syria and the frightening and dangerous crossing of the Mediterranean sea in a boat filled with refugees.

Below is an interview with Jan Pêt Khorto, who now lives and studies in Denmark. He sits on the board of the Syrian institute and helps to promote the integration of refugees in Denmark.