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Takeaways from My Recent Trip to Uganda

PM Office, Kampala Focus group Dance for life! Boda boda The belt bike Men at work LSDGs Partners Mobile in their hands From May 6 to 13, I, along with Crossing Borders (CB) external consultant Johannes Nordentoft, visited Uganda (also known as the Pearl of Africa). The purpose of the visit was to meet our Localizing the SDGs project partners: Open Space Center in Uganda, Ghana Community Radio Network (GCRN), and Circus Zambia (CZ). OSC was our excellent host. As the title indicates, the aim of the project was to localize efforts to achieve the global goals in local communities. The project was motivated by the conviction that localizing the SDGs in local communities and youth is the surest way towards achieving them. After three years of implementation in Ghana, Uganda, and Zambia, the Kampala event was the concluding action experience, sharing with the partners to reflect on the experience and look ahead. GCRN was represented by the local evaluator Lawrence Naikouur and youth leader Edwin Gogu, CZ was represented by Executive Director Charlotte Groen and local evaluator Eric Mwansa, while OSC was represented by Team Leader Wakibu Bunnya, Program Managers Nakato Rehema Sessimba, Tamale Joel Baliruno, and Kakaire Ashraf, and local evaluator Namuwonge Brenda. I had the honor of representing Crossing Borders, the project lead. Program Activities Our activities comprised field visits to several project sites in different districts in and around Kampala and Jinja. We also visited the Prime Minister’s office, where the SDGs secretariat is located, and met with the head of the department and program head. After that, we had focus group discussions with members of the SDG Youth Task Forces and individual youth leaders. After these activities and observations in the various districts in and around Kampala and Jinja, here are the most important takeaways from my experience: Like most African countries, Uganda is rich in human resources, creativity, abundant natural resources, and resilience. Generally, the overall situation is improving and is better compared to 5, 10, and 60 years ago when the country gained formal political independence. The improvement is visible in the attitudes, behaviors, and drive of the youth. They exude polite self-confidence and determination, they know what they want, and are eager to take a seat at the table. Most of the youth have access to vital information using their mobile phones and are rapidly developing their entrepreneurial mindsets and skills. However, they need a youth-friendly policy framework, a supportive economic environment, lifelong learning, training, and decent employment. More than many other countries, Uganda is blessed with a youthful and rapidly growing population, with youth constituting over 75% of the nearly 50 million inhabitants. For the youth, the priorities are decent jobs, life skills, relevant education rooted in their cultural and economic realities, and having their rights mainstreamed in the development processes of the country at all levels. They want to participate in addressing the issues that affect their living conditions and civic rights. With an increasing population, number of vehicles and boda bodas, and hyper-economic activities, safe and efficient infrastructure like roads are urgently needed for the highly mobile young population. Decent and affordable housing, clean energy, sufficient and sustainable food production and local processing, and accessible public healthcare are other necessities. Thus, there are huge opportunities for fair investment which need to take local needs into high consideration. The Chinese are already there building physical infrastructures such as the new highway between Entebbe and Kampala. Uganda is landlocked but very fertile and blessed with abundant and vital water and agricultural resources, such as Lake Victoria, which is 72,000 sq km, plus the world’s longest river, the Nile, which starts its journey in Uganda. One can almost grow anything in the country year-round, which perhaps prompted Churchill to call the country the Pearl of Africa. With sustainable management, Uganda can feed not only herself but many other countries as well. Most of the people in Uganda were born and have grown up under the same president. Hence, many of them have a hard time imagining life under another leader. As change is the only permanent thing in life, sooner or later the current leadership must give way to others. Like many other African countries, the key to sustainable development, peace, and prosperity in Uganda lies in having strong, fair, democratic, and citizen-centered institutions. Institutions that cater to the real needs of the citizens, fulfill their legitimate aspirations to participate, and have their needs, rights, and perspectives mainstreamed in the national development and governance policies and practices at all levels. Such policies include the localization of the SDGs in the local youth and communities as the surest way towards achieving them. Garba Diallo, Director of Crossing Borders

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Exploring the Heart of Europe: Insightful Articles by Flakkebjerg Students

Embark on a journey through the corridors of the European Union with a group of bright minds from Denmark’s Flakkebjerg. Delving into the intricate fabric of EU institutions and pressing societal issues, these students have penned down a compelling series of articles that promise to ignite thought, spark dialogue, and foster understanding. From the nuanced complexities of mental health policies to the ongoing pursuit of diversity and the quest for gender equality, each article offers a fresh perspective, rooted in research and driven by a passion for change. Join us in celebrating the intellectual prowess and dedication of these young scholars as they navigate the realms of European governance and social justice. Click below to read their attached article and immerse yourself in the rich tapestry of European discourse. Download Articles

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A Special Food for Thought with Andrii Kuzmyn #FoodForThought

Held on April 18, 2024, we hosted our monthly Food for Thought event. This month, our guest was Andrii Kuzmyn, the General Manager of the non-profit organization ‘Bevar Ukraine’. Bevar Ukraine is the largest humanitarian organization run by and for Ukrainians. They provide logistical support to Ukraine and Ukrainians who have sought refuge in Denmark. During the presentation, Andrii shared his life story, global adventures, personal and professional experiences, as well as his civic and humanitarian activism, along with heartfelt thoughts that motivate and inspire him to support Ukraine from his base in Denmark. Andrii’s career is as diverse as his personal life, having taken him around the world and involved him in various fields from IKEA to finance to corporations like Siemens and WSA. The Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2014 proved to be a pivotal moment for Andrii, driving him to found and lead Bevar Ukraine since then. Bevar Ukraine collects and delivers humanitarian aid, including medical kits, hospital beds, and ambulances, while also providing psychological support to displaced Ukrainians in Denmark. As usual, participants in this event come from various backgrounds, including students, all sharing a common interest in the situation in Ukraine. The event was facilitated by Oksana, a youth leader from Ukraine. In their engaging conversation, Andrii and Oksana Nykytyuk were able to touch upon the deep-seated challenges facing Ukraine and the emotional distress only understood by those directly involved. Through Andrii’s presentation, we were able to deepen our understanding of the tragic situations of the war in Ukraine, and each of us had a chance to consider what we can do for people in difficult situations. Following the presentation, participants engaged in discussions over a community dinner prepared by the renowned chefs of Send Flere Krydderier, concluding the evening in a peaceful atmosphere. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-6RJimfcww Article written by: Masato IsajiVideo edited by: Oussama El Sayed

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Exploring Intersectionality with Oda-Kange Diallo-Midtvage #FoodForThought

On Thursday, the 14th of March, we had the amazing opportunity to meet and share our stories on the occasion of another Food for Thought, organized by Crossing Borders and Union in Nørrebro. FFT provides a pleasant and safe environment to learn from and be inspired by each other’s life experiences through storytelling, followed by a delightful community dinner prepared by Send More Spices. This time, the invited speaker was Oda-Kange Diallo-Midtvage, a Black Norwegian researcher, recent PhD graduate in Interdisciplinary Cultural Studies, and passionate black feminist. During the conversation, facilitated by Nyeleti Sue-Angel Nkuna, Oda-Kange shared memories of her upbringing in Denmark (born in Oslo, then moved to Denmark), where her father, Garba Diallo (director of Crossing Borders), got a job at International People’s College. In Elsinore, she and her brother learned to be part of a community with an international orientation and within a home where four languages were spoken. She also learned there not to assume but to get to know people, as she said. Admittedly, this approach became a foundation stone of her future academic career. Oda-Kange initially studied Anthropology but soon realized that she didn’t want to do “anthropology at home” (namely being a native working in their own society) but wanted to do research instead. She works based on black feminist ethics, thus trying to show collective care and transparency in conversations rather than just interviewing people. Relationships and deeply shared things are a method for her work. Because of the Covid crisis, Oda-Kange moreover realized that she needed others, so there were finally co-writers for her doctoral thesis on knowledge creation and black feminist critique. She questioned the (colonial and/or racist) archives/history, so she chose writing letters as “counter-archiving”, as four Afro-Nordic feminists wrote to each other in the form of letters. Also, for her, black feminism goes together with radical thinking, where it also comes from. Currently working at the University of Copenhagen, Oda-Kange shared that she is still concerned about why it is still so hard to do research as a black feminist within Danish academia, whose institutional whiteness she stresses. She wants to do intersectional work, transcending boundaries and/or capitalism and ensuring that no one is left behind in the fight for equality and justice. She is interested in Blackness in the Nordics and racialized identities rather than a color-blind approach that is held in Scandinavian educational systems. Thus, her research focuses on black and African diasporic knowledge production in the Nordics. As a member of the Afro-Nordic feminisms, she believes in the radical potentials of black studies in the Nordic context. As the night came to a close, enriched by inspiring conversations and deeper personal connections forged over dinner, we bid farewell, grateful for the moments shared. Written By: Angeliki Alexopoulou

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An Evening of Connection and Reflection with Narcis George Matache #FoodForThought

Most internationals in Denmark surely know of his journalistic work through ‘Last Week in Denmark.’ Since 2021, Narcis Matache and his team have aimed at empowering people of all backgrounds by informing them about both Danish and EU political and socioeconomic happenings. However, this is only one of Mr. Matache’s activities. Looking forward to preparing society for future challenges, he is also an entrepreneur devoted to making entrepreneurship accessible for internationals via Aalborg Institute for Development and a civil society activist via AMIS. On the 22nd of February, we had the chance to meet this engaged person up close on the occasion of Food for Thought organized by Crossing Borders. After Garba Diallo stressed the importance of storytelling for human beings, Narcis Matache opened up and shared stories from his early young age when he came from Romania to Denmark. Even since he was a student, he has been a passionate activist, wanting to make Denmark a more welcoming place for internationals and bring Europe closer. Matache strongly encourages political engagement for all. For example, one of his aims has been to help non-Danish speakers become a part of Danish society. He highlighted the surprise of people when, in 2013, there were announcements for EU citizens in English that they could vote in the local elections. In Denmark, where there are almost one million internationals (almost 300,000 are just non-Danish EU citizens), Narcis shared his vision of building a safe and inclusive place for all ‘People of Denmark’ instead of just ‘Danish’ people, as he prefers to call them. On the occasion of the topic of the evening, the diversity of people was noticeable too. In the hospitable space of the Union in Norrebro, we had the chance to savor a delicious meal prepared by ‘Send Frere Krydderier’ (Send More Spices, in English), the multinational social kitchen at the Union. By candlelight, we enjoyed a drink, getting to know people of all backgrounds, sharing ideas, and networking in a way that could make it possible to actually build relationships. It was a beautiful evening, an unforgettable intimate experience. Looking forward to the next Food for Thought event! Written By: Angeliki Alexopoulou

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Gaza: Who Will Rise to Stop the Genocide against Palestinians?

Israel’s Western allies, including Denmark, continue to support the genocide in Gaza behind the narrative of defence against terrorism. The alarm bells are ringing louder and louder over the Western allies as the death toll of Palestinians reaches unprecedented levels and the catastrophic conditions, including a severe desperation for food and water face those still alive after 132 days. If we still want confidence in a world order based on universal human rights and our common humanity, Western leaders must find their moral compass now – and face the truth about the genocide in Gaza. More than 28,000 Palestinian lives have been lost during Israel’s 132-day cold-blooded massacre in Gaza. 70% are women and children. Every 11 minutes a Palestinian child is brutally killed and every hour two mothers are killed. 1,9 million are internally displaced and in severe need of humanitarian assistance, which the UN’s United Nations Agency for Palestine Refugees, UNRWA heroically struggles to provide. Despite international law, hospitals, UN schools and refugee camps, religious places continue to be attacked. Journalists continue to be targeted and killed as they bravely fight to get glimpses of the heart-wrenching atrocities out to the eyes of the world. Around 75% of all journalists killed in war zones in 2023, lost their lives in the war on Gaza. In sum, drawing up a clear case of systematic genocide while the UN alongside other international institutions and people in the streets across the world everywhere continue to call for an immediate and lasting ceasefire. Complicit in the crimes in Gaza Israel’s Western allies, including the Danish government, have been disturbingly silent and complicit in the crimes in Gaza and are contributing to the epidemic of impunity unfolding globally as they fail to keep Israel accountable. We are currently witnessing a moral collapse in the West, where Israeli allies are paving the path for a breakdown in the values and norms that bind us together as a global community – not seen since World War II. Several Western countries led by the US are taking even more extreme measures by defunding UNRWA, turning humanitarian assistance into a weapon of war based on unproven allegations against 12 individual employees of UNRWA out of some 30.000. This brings the world to a sharp moral crossroads: how can we sustain a global community with confidence in universal human rights in the face of the horrors unleashed on Gaza? The world position on Gaza will set the direction for much more than the future of Palestinians and Israelis. It will become a moral compass for the future of the entire world. Consequently, the West is losing its credibility with the global south and with their own populations who day in and day out continue to witness “hell on earth” in Gaza. Mogens Lykketoft writes in Jyllands-Posten 13 December 2023 “in the global south, the West’s failure to distance itself from Netanyahu’s war policy is seen as an expression of cynical double standards about human rights. The war creates the risk of more unrest throughout the region and the world. There is a fear of terrorism in Europe. There is a risk that nationalist, xenophobic and semi-authoritarian movements can break down unity in the climate fight and in the war against Russia”. Truths to offer direction for a new Western course of action Israel’s Western allies, including the Danish government urgently ought to face a series of truths about Israel and the current escalation of the conflict, placing it at the scale of genocide. The only way to peace is through a new course of action by Western leaders anchored in truth. One truth is that Israel’s occupation of Palestine the past 75 years is the root of the conflict. The report “Israel’s Apartheid Against Palestinians” in February 2022 by Amnesty International referred to the fact that the occupation actually is illegal according to the international conventions reported by the UN’s independent international commission of inquiry. Hence, it is not only a lasting ceasefire that is needed right now, the systematic oppression, discrimination and violations of the freedom and human rights of the Palestinian people need to end for peace to become possible. A second truth is that when people live under occupation as in the case of the Palestinians, they have a right to defend themselves under international law, just as an occupying power has an obligation to protect people under its control. Yet the Palestinians in Gaza continue to be dehumanized and starved by the Israeli Government through denial of water, food, health care, electricity, shelter and human dignity at all levels. Thirdly, it is vital to remember that a deep pain exists across generations among both Israelis and Palestinians. The pain, anger and hatred that naturally arises from being oppressed, possessed, excluded, displaced and unjustly deprived of human dignity and basic human rights. A feeling the Palestinians have lived with since 1948. On the Israeli side, people are born into an “us or them” narrative, brainwashed to see Palestinians as less human and some are fueled with fear to kill, control, oppress and discriminate against Palestinians. It is clear that Israel’s response to the 7 October attack and the unconditional support of its Western allies has not served the welfare of the Israeli people nor the peace process – it has only escalated the pain and created higher walls and more monsters. Western leaders lack moral global responsibility A fourth truth is that while the UN Chief continues to loudly call for a return to our common humanity, the position on Gaza by Western leaders continues to fuel polarization across societies. When pro-Palestinians are called anti-Semites, and when calling for a lasting ceasefire and the rights of Palestinians, make us advocates of terrorism and against Jews. When the many legal demonstrations all over the world are being labeled divisive rather than the civic human rights activism that is currently bringing millions of people from Copenhagen to Johannesburg, from Brasilia to Kuala Lumpur to Sydney on

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Lise Walbom’s Journey from the Fields to Food Nation #FoodForThought

On a dark chilly evening in January, the warmth of community spirit and shared story telling gathered us together for our first Food for Thought of 2024. Held on January 25th, this event was an intimate experience, where candles flickered on long communal tables, setting a space for an evening of sharing both captivating stories and a delicious meal. It was an event full of ideas, conversation, and lively dialogue.   Our guest, Lise Walbom, CEO of Food Nation, presented us with her life story that was deeply connected with her insights on the connection between our food systems and the future of our planet. Her core message that, “Food has a crucial role to play in a secure world,” resonated deeply in the room, echoing the collective realization of food’s pivotal role in the sustainability of the planet.  From Strawberries to Sustainability  Lise’s journey in the realm of sustainable food practices began while picking strawberries in the western part of Zealand in Denmark. These early experiences sowed the seeds for her future in organic farming and her pursuit of a degree in agronomy at the university.   Lise shared her admiration for Gro Harlem Brundtland, the first female Norwegian Prime Minister and a pioneer in sustainability. Brundtland’s work, especially that contained in the book “Our Common Future,” published during Lise’s first year of high school, served as a guiding light throughout her career.  Creating Partnerships for a Path Forward    Her path led her to occupying public roles, including working in the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, focusing on organic farming. Eventually, her journey culminated in her becoming the CEO of Food Nation in 2017. Lise described Food Nation as a “dating platform for people within the food industry who would like new contacts,” a testament to her innovative approach to fostering global connections. Her work, and the goal of Food Nation, is to share ideas across the public, private and academic sectors throughout the globe. She asserted that though is Denmark is a small country, it is pioneer nation in terms of innovation. This makes the country able to share its knowledge and learning with others by crossing borders. She argues that “Collaboration is the essence of Denmark’s DNA within food and agriculture”, giving the example of how it was one of the first countries to establish farmer cooperatives.  Lise described the endeavors of Food Nation as aligning closely with, and being inspired by, many of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). She highlighted local initiatives in the food sector and their power to make global impacts. She stressed the importance of engaging consumers in responsible consumption. Her global outreach has been marked by her presence at events like the recent COP 28 in Dubai and Climate Week NYC. These activities reflect Lise’s commitment to sharing knowledge and driving the change we want to see through collaboration.  Coming Together Around a Meal  The evening wasn’t just about words. It was also about action and experience. Following the enlightening discussion, we savored a delightful meal from Send Flere Krydderier (Send More Spices, in English). It is a social kitchen known for sharing the stories of the chefs through the meals they create. The food satiated our appetites and served as a delicious embodiment of Lise’s vision – diversity, sustainability, and deep connections in our global community.  As the candles dimmed and the evening matured, the participants from various backgrounds and worldviews went home with smiles on their faces and hopes in their hearts, with one participant, Italy, stating he was ”inspired to engaged in sustainable farming at a local level” and Julia, from Greece, reflecting that “There’s a different way of understanding the world if you grew up by the land”. Lise Walbom’s journey from a strawberry field to leading a national movement serves as a testament to Lise’s trajectory to fighting for a more sustainable future for all.  Written By: Andrew Gibbons

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Migrantour Copenhagen: New Collaboration and Discovery with DIS 

The past year has been a whirlwind of excitement and growth for Migrantour Copenhagen, marked by new opportunities and unforgettable adventures. One of the most significant highlights has been the establishment of a dynamic collaboration with DIS (Danish Institute for Study Abroad), a renowned non-profit study abroad foundation founded in Denmark in 1959. With locations in Copenhagen and Stockholm, DIS has been providing high-impact learning experiences for upper-division undergraduate students from distinguished North American colleges and universities.  Migrantour Copenhagen, known for its immersive city tours led by Danish migrants, seized the opportunity to collaborate with DIS and enhance the experience for international students arriving in Copenhagen and planning to stay for three months. The partnership has allowed Migrantour to extend its unique tours to DIS students, offering them a firsthand and authentic exploration of the city they will call home for the next three months.  The most recent tour conducted just last week, welcomed 34 international students from various corners of the globe. These eager learners embarked on a journey with Migrantour guides, delving into the heart of Copenhagen’s culture, history, and hidden gems. As the students discovered the city’s rich tapestry, they gained invaluable insights into the local way of life, facilitated by the diverse perspectives of Migrantour guides who have their own unique stories to share.  This collaboration with DIS has not only enriched the experiences of incoming students but has also provided Migrantour Copenhagen with a platform to reach a broader audience. The past year has been a testament to the organization’s commitment to fostering cross-cultural understanding and creating meaningful connections between migrants and the global community. As Migrantour Copenhagen continues to evolve and embrace new opportunities, its role as a bridge between cultures in the vibrant city of Copenhagen only becomes more integral and impactful. We are excited for the new year, to see how Migrantour Copenhagen will evolve!

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Anti-Racism and Civic Courage Training

Is your class ready to engage on questions of racism and discrimination?  Then we are waiting for you in Nørrebro for a free 4-day training – full of activities, dialogues, and growth.   Interested? Fill out this form to let us know! Suna, of Perspekt Initiative (Hamburg, Germany) introduces the learning goals for Day 1 The group comes up with a common framework for how to work together and dealing with conflict Participants try to match concepts and definitions surrounding anti-racism and discrimination through debate and consensus Facilitators play the Dice Game, an interactive and fun activity that allows participants to deepen their understanding of institutional and structural discrimination through the migratory context Key Information:  Dates: 4 full days*, between February and April   Location: Union KBH (Crossing Borders Offices), Nørre allé 7, Copenhagen 2200  Participants:  15-30 students, ages 14-20, plus 1 to 2 accompanying teachers   Cost: Complimentary with refreshments – lunch and travel provided by school *Days can be consecutive, or split up over 2 weeks or 1 month    Background of the Training:  The Anti Racism and Civic Courage Training, part of our ACCT Project (acctforchange.eu), is designed to equip students with the knowledge and tools to combat racism and discrimination. It is a robust, four-day program, with the first three days comprised of non-formal education activities(exercises & games) and theoretical inputs and the last day as a practical hands-on visit with local NGO’s and activists that are engaged in this work. This training is meant to enhance the learners’ capabilities in anti-racism and fostering civic courage.  Learning Goals:  Understand the various forms of racism and discrimination.  Challenge stereotypes and biases.  Develop strategies for promoting civic courage.  Equip participants with tools to address racism and discrimination  Gain awareness on local mechanisms for reporting incidents of discrimination in Denmark.  Foster diverse and inclusive learning environments.    Why Participate?  Dialogue-based and hands-on activities   Unique opportunity for your students to engage in critical, real-world topics.  Enhance students’ social awareness and responsibility.  Foster a culture of empathy, respect, and inclusivity within your school community    More questions. Email Andrew Gibbons, Project Coordinator, at andrew.g@crossingborders.dk Meet the Facilitators: Andrew Gibbons Andrew is a facilitator whose work uses non-formal education techniques to encourage meaningful participation for all. His passions lie in youth empowerment, social justice, and the creation of multilingual spaces. Andrew has worked with learners of all ages on projects such as growing nutritious food in urban food deserts, training spoken language interpreters for democratic change, and youth engagement for active citizenship. Maryam Alaouie Maryam is a project coordinator specializing in digital media and communication, manages EU projects and focuses on communication strategies. Passionate about human rights, particularly in the Middle East, she actively engages in politics and social issues. Bikalpa Bibash Basaula Bikalpa is a Master student at Aalborg University specialising in Global Refugee Studies and has a background in Media Studies and International Development & Communication. He has Human Right advocacy experience with “Antenna Foundation Nepal” and “Citizens Campaign for Right To Information” and is passionate about supporting marginalised communities. Through practical work at København Kommune and his education at Aalborg University, he has honed skills in assisting migrants and refugees. Margeret Maged Margaret from Egypt has a dream of making the lives of disadvantaged people better through providing non-formal education, space for creativity, talent development, and dialogue. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and has worked as a project coordinator for a Christian channel called SAT-7 in environmental protection and raising awareness. She is also a board member of a charitable organization called “My Beautiful Country” in Alexandria, which serves underprivileged families displaced from Upper Egypt.

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Youth For Ukraine: Kick-off Gathering

Saturday, the 2nd of December, from 10:00 to 17:00, Crossing Borders gathered 38 Ukrainian youths aged 16-30 from all over Denmark to explore how they could create a meaningful and sustainable community for Ukrainian youth in Denmark. Working in large group dialogue processes, they explored the question ‘What would be a meaningful and sustainable community for you?’ and collaborated on projects, ideas, and initiatives they could undertake together. During the process, they clarified the values, events, and communication channels they wanted the community to be based on. They created five clubs: Sports, Creative Community, Mental Wellbeing, Online Community, and Social Activities, and established a Social Media community for their future work. The youth were very enthusiastic and engaged during the process, and it was clear there was a real need for the event, as one participant shared, ‘This is the first time I have felt at home in Denmark.’ Thank you to our partners from Bevar Ukraine and to Tuborg Fondet and BUPL Solidaritets- og Kulturfond who sponsored the event. The Youth For Ukraine gathering was the first of three initiatives planned by Crossing Borders. The next project is an innovation camp at the Youth Island outside Copenhagen, aimed at developing new solutions to the most pressing issues facing Ukrainian youth in Denmark. The innovation camp is scheduled for March/April 2024. We are following up with a 1½-year capacity-building program focused on the democratic engagement of Ukrainian youth in Danish society. This is the first national initiative that has been taken for Ukrainian youth in Denmark.

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