International House Esbjerg will serve as a focal point for the city’s international community and better connect with the locals.
Text: Nikolaos Papadopoulos
Pictures: Esbjerg Municipality
The excitement is evident in the room as Pia Enemark, and Maria Anglada of Esbjerg’s Newcomer Service sit down to discuss one of the city’s big summer happenings: the opening of Esbjerg’s International House. Incorporated into Esbjerg’s Festuge, taking place in August, the International House will be a gathering place for internationals living in the city; Danes are, of course, welcome at any time! “Part of our work is to connect internationals and locals”, says Pia. “It is important for us that both newcomers and people already here are part of a community they belong to”, adds Maria.
While the opening was planned to take place earlier, the COVID pandemic stopped the original plan. However, with restrictions lifted and normality being restored across the country, the opportune moment was finally found. A variety of activities will take place on that day, ranging from arts and crafts stalls to dance and music performances by Esbjerg’s international community. The International House will also serve as the centrepiece of Esbjerg’s Welcome Month, part of Denmark’s Welcome September initiative.
“What we do is try to make people moving here feel at home, so the next time they look for a job, they do it here.”
Esbjerg’s mayor, Jesper Frost Rasmussen, is equally excited about the opening. “I will just give a short speech and cut a ribbon”, he jokes. One of the initial backers of the idea, he says the big problems were securing funding and finding a place to establish the House; problems solved through careful planning and a bit of luck, as the old Arresthus coincidentally became available. “What we do is try to make people moving here feel at home, so the next time they look for a job, they do it here”, he says, highlighting one of Denmark’s most significant current issues: its need to attract and retain skilled workers.
With the opening expected to be a true “celebration of diversity” and high hopes for many locals joining in, one thing is for sure: the opening of the House will be something to talk about!