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Voluntarism: The Key to Networking in Denmark - Juliet

(Juliet with Mayor of Aarhus Jacob Bundsgaard)

Voluntarism is an extremely common phenomenon in Denmark. Everyone, no matter their age, is excited about it and wants to get involved in a voluntary job. There are two types of volunteers in Denmark: those working nationally and those working on international projects. Nationally, some of the volunteer areas include: helping out at humanitarian centers, charity shops, student radio stations, anti-bully sensitization in schools and street advocacy for various causes. International voluntary jobs on the other hand are mostly geared towards a development initiative in different countries mostly in the developing world.
There are many reasons why voluntarism is popular in Denmark but one of the most important is the inherent desire in many Danes to contribute towards positive change. Danes are often looking for ways to improve the livelihoods of others both within and beyond Denmark. I believe this is the main reason why they create and participate in different organizations, leading to more and more voluntary positions for those who are interested in their cause.
Nowadays, due to the economic crisis; the current difficulties in acquiring a job and the high level of importance placed on “working experience” in most job adverts, most job seekers in Denmark have resorted to voluntary work to achieve these much needed experience. As a result, there is a noticeable increase in the number of unemployed people doing a range of voluntary work.
On a personal note, since I came to Denmark, I have held different voluntary positions in about 10 different organisations. My experience with voluntary jobs has been good for the following reasons: Firstly, as an Expat, getting a network determines whether or not you will stay in that society. So by taking part in different voluntary activities, I have met other Expats as well as Danes who have given me some useful insights about the Danish society in general and the Danish job market in particular.
Secondly, voluntary jobs provided a safe environment for me to practice the Danish language. Even though I have been mostly involved with international projects, there was still room for me to practice the language during meetings (which were mostly in Danish). This exposure to the language have given me more confidence to speak Danish in shops, buses and also ask for directions in case I feel lost.
Lastly, engaging in different voluntary work has helped me to improve my skills as a team player. In Denmark the concept of being a good team player is very important, and it is encouraged from daycare right up to the elderly. Thus, working alongside others over time has helped me develop problem-solving skills which are always needed when working as a group under deadline pressures.
All in all, as an Expat in Denmark, voluntary work has been a stepping stone into the Danish society because it has made it easier for me to extend my network; deepen my knowledge of the Danish society; practice my Danish - all while contributing to a range of worthy causes to improve the livelihoods of people within and out of Denmark.
About the author: Juliet N. Lifongo has lived 4 years in Aarhus. She is currently an ambassador for International Community, while also volunteering as a project assistant at DIB, Aarhus.

If you are wondering where you can find information about volunteering in Denmark and maybe break he language barrier, you can read our guide 

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