Picture: Mentor Network Esbjerg
Text: Nikolaos Papadopoulos
Mentor Network Esbjerg started as a countrywide initiative called Kvinfo in 2004 for female refugees. Mentor Network Esbjerg was officially founded in 2010 after Kvinfo decided to close down their Esbjerg branch. The founders at the time saw an ongoing need for internationals living in Esbjerg and decided to provide the service to cover it.
Today, the Mentor Network’s focus has expanded to include all internationals, no matter their status or gender - as long as one has a desire and passion for actively participating in Danish society, everybody is welcome! Its purpose is simple: provide internationals with mentors and guides to many aspects of Danish society, integration, language, culture, and work ethics - these are the Network’s focus.
While the goal is simple, the process is much more complicated. As its head, Jette Holten Lutzhoft points out: “The specific needs of individuals need to be taken into careful consideration to create matching, lasting mentor-mentee pairs. Danes are not allowed to join as mentees, but they are always welcome to become mentors.”
“The specific needs of individuals need to be taken into careful consideration to create matching, lasting mentor-mentee pairs.”
Most importantly, as Jette reminds us, this is not a one-way process. “Both the mentor and mentee stand to gain from forming such a bond. Mentees get accustomed to the many facets of Danish life, but they also offer an opportunity to mentors to explore a different culture from the comfort of their own homes. The pandemic has also increased loneliness worldwide, and the Mentor Network stands firm in its resolution of bringing people together, a service now more critical than ever.”
Almost fully staffed by volunteers, the Network has taken a hit from the ongoing pandemic and still requires funding for its continued operation. Despite the adversity, Jette and her team are enthusiastic about the future and the exciting projects planned for the New Year, especially one focused on connecting internationals with businesses - what better way to start the New Year than with a great networking opportunity. In these trying times, let us keep alive what makes us human.
For more info: https://mentoresbjerg.dk/