The first half of the week was my first time leaving Copenhagen since arriving in Denmark. When I returned to Copenhagen for the second half of core course week, I was so excited by how much I felt like I was returning home. In the short four weeks I have been here, Copenhagen really has become a place that I can call home.
Highlights of the week as a whole were making new friends and becoming close with my core course group. A constant joke throughout the whole trip was that everyone in DIS has only known each other for four weeks. In our opinions, that isn’t actually enough time to get to know someone well. We laughed about the absurdity of casually taking a trip across Denmark, an ocean away from everyone we knew, with a bunch of strangers. But then, we also all agreed that we had some close friends in Copenhagen so far, or in this case, “best strangers,” as we called it. At the end of core course week we didn’t feel like strangers anymore.
We luckily got to sleep in after traveling. That afternoon we met in our classroom for a discussion with a journalist who covers the Middle East. This journalist has been covering the Middle East for a long time and just traveled to Kurdish-controlled northern Syria to speak with a Danish citizen living in the camp there. He shared her journey and how she willingly chose to join the Islamic state, then realized quickly that life is not what it was advertised to be. Afterwards, she escaped to the Kurdish camp where she currently resides. There are about 10 women with similar stories who would also like to return to Denmark.
For the last day of Core Course Week, we visited a community center in Copenhagen. By this time I have lived in Copenhagen for around four weeks, so I’d say I know it decently well. However, for this site visit, I traveled to a new part that I haven’t seen yet. We visited the community center Krudttønden in Østerbro.
The community center was the site of a terrorist attack about five years ago and the presenter was actually at the attack. For his first presentation, the speaker recounted the thoughts going through his head during the attack and what other people did when they knew there was a shooter outside. He also shared how the trauma stayed with him for a long time and the long road to mental recovery that he had. When we have spoken of terrorism within the class, it is largely on the discourse of terrorism and separated greatly from the trauma and personal experiences, and this was a unique opportunity to bring the broad concept of terrorism back down to a single experience that someone had.
In his second presentation, the presenter shared his expertise on the subject of satire within religions throughout history. Satire has been used to critique both religions and religious leaders in a humorous manner that was easy for illiterate people to understand–similar to political cartoons in modern day. Oftentimes, violence has been used against those who publish satire on religions, which was part of the reason for the attack Krudttønden.