Danish exchange students come to DC

Amelia Bergeron

Courtesy of Creative Commons – NASA Videographer

On March 30 at Dulles International Airport a group of 30 Danish exchange students and two staff arrived to spend a week in Washington, DC. For many, this was their first time in the city. The exchange program, planned by the mass media department, was scheduled to last one week. The goal for the Danish students: to make a movie regarding gender identity and equality in the United States.

During the week, the students attended classes at Wilson with their host students, went sightseeing, and made their films. Using public transportation, the students visited the monuments in DC and sights outside of the city including the Pentagon. “We saw the memorials, almost all of them I think. We went to the White House, the World Bank, the Natural History Museum,” Danish student Emma Damgaard said.

For a majority of the students, their favorite activity during the entire trip was shopping. In the United States, the name brands and popular items are much cheaper than in Denmark. They were also surprised at how pleasant  Americans were. “The Americans are very open minded. They are so sweet,” explained Danish student Camilla Andersen.

On the Monday night after they arrived, all of the American students and their families had a potluck in the Wilson atrium with the Danish students. The cuisine was barbeque—something many of the Danes had never eaten. After dinner, all of the students played ice breaker games. The Danes knew much more about America then Wilson students  knew about Denmark, but the Americans did learn that the artist Lukas Graham is Danish.

Since the exchange was through the Mass Media program, the students spent two days working on their movies.The general topic was gender identity in America and how Denmark is different from America, but once divided into smaller groups the films were all taken into unique directions. Although they were all different from one another, certain requirements needed to be met by all the groups. The students had to interview at least one American and incorporate their social studies class in some way. The films were made through the assistance of the mass media students teaching the programing to the Danes.

The idea for the topic of the films was established before the arrival of the students. The Danish school was inspired to create this project by the all-gender restroom signs installed by the bathrooms at Wilson. “We passed the restrooms [at Wilson] and saw the signs about gender diversity,” explained Danish Chaperone Bo Soderberg when elaborating on why they chose to do this project and work with Wilson.

The program proved successful. Mass media teacher Kadesha Bonds, thought the program was advantageous for everyone. “It was beneficial for all the kids. It gave me the opportunity to get to know some students who weren’t my students because they came out everyday. My mass media kids, I got to kind of put them in the role of the teacher,” she said. Bonds is interested in learning about the education programs in Denmark and comparing them to the United States for the film in the fall, when the Wilson students will be in Copenhagen.

Erin Weissman, a sophomore at Wilson also enjoyed the experience. “It was cool to meet someone new because I haven’t done [and exchange program] before. It was cool to see how the cultures also kind of were different.” Wilson students grew close to their exchange students, and look forward to traveling to Copenhagen this coming November.