Youth-run organisations like AIESEC are leading the change in Denmark's diverse society.
Text: Jakob Weizman
Settling into Denmark and finding work can be challenging for many, especially young people who are slowly embarking on their life path. Therefore it becomes crucial for Danes and internationals residing in the country to help facilitate the process for those looking to start their new lives in Denmark.
This is where AIESEC comes into the picture, the world's largest youth-run, non-profit organisation with over 40,000 members in 126 countries. It's no surprise that its global network reaches into every corner of the world, especially here in Denmark, with five different local committees in Aalborg, Aarhus, Horsens, Odense and Copenhagen.
“AIESEC is the world's largest youth-run, non-profit organisation with over 40,000 members in 126 countries."
"AIESEC provides a great platform where internationals can find the support they need to develop and establish themselves. The network of AIESEC provides internationals in Denmark an opportunity to engage with businesses and schools in the local area, where they are part of creating a net-positive change, not just for the businesses, but for everyone involved," said Frederik Bendix Sørensen, the Local Committee President of the Aalborg team. He comes from Hadsund in Eastern Jutland and studies at AAU (Aalborg University).
Members help find local businesses and schools to set up internships and volunteering opportunities for internationals looking to move to Denmark and improve their careers.
Furthermore, AIESEC assists in creating internship and volunteering opportunities abroad for Danes and international students in Denmark looking to work or volunteer in other countries.
"Today, my vision is giving these opportunities provided by AIESEC to as many people as possible in Aalborg & in Denmark," said Sørensen. "Few people in Denmark actually know about AIESEC and what we provide, and in my role as President, I'm hoping to grow the organisation in Denmark, so we can engage more youth to develop leadership and take action to develop the world they want to see."
"I feel like AIESEC is one of the organisations that offer the possibility of connecting Danes and Internationals on a more personal level," said Alexandra-Madalina Stanci, a Masters student at AAU who hails from Romania. She leads the team responsible for finding internship opportunities in Aalborg, establishing partnerships with local companies.
Not only do they find opportunities to volunteer and work, but AIESEC maintains a close relationship with those that embark on the AIESEC experience. Before coming to Denmark to work for a local company or join a volunteer project, the local team helps internationals prepare for the culture change and what to expect from Danish life in all aspects.
"AIESEC always has in mind what activities internationals can participate in to feel more integrated into the culture. I loved how they were always organising different events for us," said Andressa Souza Martins, who came to Denmark through an AIESEC volunteer experience in Aalborg.
Martins is Brazilian-Spanish and stayed with a Danish host family during her volunteering at a local school. By the end of the experience, she decided to stay in Aalborg, undertaking her master's at AAU.
"My host family encouraged me to apply for my masters here in Aalborg. It wasn't tough to convince me. By that time, I was already in love with Aalborg," said Martins. "And part of it is thanks to AIESEC. So I always tell my friends and recommend it as it's one of the best ways of exploring new countries, meeting new people, developing your own skills, and learning new ones."
The most frightening thing about coming to Denmark, or any other country, is the challenge of settling in. For many internationals, it can be quite a struggle. That's why AIESEC ensures that every participant's experience is seamless, from beginning to end.
"We also provide continuous support while the interns have their internship, and they get to take part in certain local or national events. They also get a great social safety net in our organisation and, considering that we also have Danish members, they are introduced into the culture by someone that has enough knowledge about both cultures," said Stanci.
"The main objective of AIESEC is to develop leadership in young people, and there are few things as empowering as stepping out of your comfort zone and travelling to a different country to work for a short period. These experiences can quite simply be life-changing, and they lead to self-awareness that can benefit you for life," added Sørensen.