Welcoming the Danes

For the second year, BCL hosted students from Skals International Project [SIP] for six days. A program of Skals Efterskole in Denmark, SIP is a year-long immersive program that nurtures global citizenship. Thanks to Signe’s connection (through her first cousin, and fellow-educator, Peter Sloth), SIP was one of the programs that inspired the design of BCL, back in 2017.

On the evening of March 19th, 18 Danish students arrived. There was ample parking on Allen St. on a Sunday night, and the bus pulled right up to the ONE Center’s front steps–where our visitors were greeted by BCL students, host families, and pizza.  After the warm welcome, the Danes (and one German student) went home to get settled with their host families. (Thank you to the Quinn/Hood, Deitschi, DeShaw, Stucker/Mason, Morton, Klima/Thelemarck, Dodson, and Laramee families for their hospitality!)

The following days were filled with cross-cultural exchanges, rich learning, and opportunities to build lifelong friendships. What didn’t we do? BCL students led five different City Walks, introducing the Danes to Burlington’s geography, history, and culture. We played community-building games. We folded the Danes into BCL routines (and one Dane, Bastian, even led a “News Group” during Morning Meeting). We shared food at an epic cross-cultural potluck feast. BCL students shared their Inquiry Projects and SIP students shared thei research into Danish responses to the climate crisis. 

On our first BHS “White Day,” the Danes shadowed BCL students at the high school. On the other White Day, SIP hosted small groups at BHS library tables for a remarkably successful “Meet a Dane” event. Afternoon activities during the week including rock climbing, ultimate frisbee, basketball and workouts at the YMCA, a visit to ECHO, shopping, creemees, a tour of UVM, a tour of Beta, and more. On Friday, we spent the whole day at Shelburne Farms, forest bathing, visiting baby animals, and boiling syrup. One particular highlight was an evening of night skiing at Bolton. After renting equipment for 30 students at Ski and Snowboard Express in Richmond, we met our goal: to get everyone on the lift and down the mountain without getting hurt. And of course to eat french fries. Mission accomplished.

On Friday night, BCL co-founder Andy Barker brought 20 pints of ice cream–a gift from Jerry Greenfield himself. Students laughed, hugged, and spun the BCL Birthday Wheel. Many BCL students returned the next morning to say goodbye at the train station. The sendoff was sweet, filled with lightness and gratitude. 

It was good, and the main takeaway was people your age coming from a different country and you get to connect with them. It’s a special privilege.

– Henry

It was nice being able to talk about our home towns, the differences and similarities. I liked hearing an outsider’s point of view on Burlington, it helped to see all the things you might not see or think about when you’ve spent most of your life here.

– Sasha

It was a good experience to connect with two different programs and MANY different cultures on the BCL end. I think it was a good way to show community and inclusion but also just deep learning in general, because of the points we got from being around the SIP students and what they were doing for their community.

– Annemiek

My experience with the Danes was refreshing. Their curiosity and interest in American culture and the city of Burlington gave us a reason to talk about our history.

– Ethan

I really enjoyed my time with the Danes. It was like being immersed in another culture for a week and gave me a good idea of Danish traditions and food. It also helped develop my social skills living with someone for a week and learning how to adapt to their habits.

– Elliot

Being with the Danes was pretty interesting, as their life is different from ours in unexpected ways. Their academic careers are totally different, but their pop culture is kind of close to ours. They listen to music artists of our continent, but they have way less cars than us. They were super nice and seemed to have adapted very nicely to us & and our daily things.

– George

Meeting the Danes was a pleasant surprise and I learned a lot from them and their culture and. How different their culture is from there also also learned that Denmark is not diverse but they are well educated on other races.

– JB

When the Danes visited one of my favorite things we did was walking tours around Burlington, and seeing Burlington through their perspective. Also learning about Denmark and how different it is, it’s a lot more climate active than us. Another thing was having a potluck, and trying all the different Danish foods, and foods from a lot of other places. I feel like I talked to the Danes the most during that time. It was really interesting to meet them.

– Sofia

Having the Danes come visit was really fun. With their arrival came fun opportunities that we wouldn’t have had without them here, like fun activities and lots of food. It was interesting to meet them all and learn about all the cultural differences, what are norms to us that are completely uncommon to them. It was cool to see everyone making friends and connections so fast

– Jayde

My experience with the Danes was good. I think that they were super happy to be here and we were super happy to have them here. It sucked that it was towards the end of the quarter so a lot of people had other things to worry about, but I had fun nonetheless. One thing I could take away is that kids are the same worldwide. We all have that adventurous nature and that will to have fun and try new things.

– Innocent

Having the Danes over with our BCL crew was a very fun, and amazing experience! We did a lot of activities with the Danes and got to know them better. I enjoyed going Skiing/Snowboarding with them as well. Showing them around town with our walking tours, and also hanging out with them in general was a very fun experience.

– Shayer

I really enjoyed meeting the Danes. It was a fresh perspective and getting to meet new people was fun. They brought a different culture that we had never been introduced to before. Although we had our differences, Vermont and Denmark have similar goals and ideals when it comes to climate change. I think it’s cool how we each shared our work and how we got to present to each other. We got to learn on how Denmark is striving to become very eco friendly and they got to learn about a very specific thing about Burlington with the inquiry projects.

– Eh Law La

It was a great experience that I would like to reverse and go there. It was super fun and good connections were made. Since the first day nobody was nervous or scared to be themselves which really helped everyone get along well. I personally thought it was super fun to go to bdubs just with the kids and have a good time with them trying new foods was super fun.

– Nevin

When the Danes first got here we were kind of strangers and had no idea what each other were like. As time went on we started to get closer and closer as friends and ended up having some fun experiences together. My main takeaway from this whole thing is that people should make friends from other countries.

– Kiernan

Having the Danes here with us was fun, and the activities we did were good as well. I like the fact that they speak their mind because I’m America you have to be careful of what you say or else y’all get in trouble. Meeting new people across the world was also a cool experience. They told us their plan on climate change, sustainability, and energy. We also have similar goals to get clean energy, and make our community sustainable without harming the environment.

– Moe

My experience with the Danes was more than good. Why? Just because we had a whole different culture spending time with us for a whole week. Also it was different because what we did on a normal basis, it was different for them like Walmart, Sports, Driving. My main takeaway is that Danish culture is nothing but friendly, also smiling, trying to make others smile, and just overall happy and caring.

– Khiem

I enjoyed the Danes. The week was very busy and fun but it also allowed me to experience things that I hadn’t been excited about in a while. I had a lot of fun skiing. I hadn’t been since like 5th grade so it was awesome, same with Shelburne Farms.

– Walter

The time I spent with the Danes was very fun. During the time they were here I learned a lot about them as individuals and their school/program and county as a whole. Many differences and similarities were discovered and it was kind of cool to compare. Homelessness, green energy and day to day lives of each other’s communities were discussed the most and more diverse/ global input/ thinking was added. Having them here was a huge eye opener personally and as a whole class.

– Summer

If you’re interested in more of a back story of how the Danes are connected with our program, you can read the blog post from last year — A Week With The Danes: Our Future, Together.

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