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Denmark Three!

This is the third in a series of blog posts from Whitties studying on Whitman’s Crossroads: Denmark program this summer with Professor Michelle Janning. This blog post is by Kyle.

Hello fellow readers! I am sorry for the lack of updates, but the class has started to pick up. I will try to recap as best I can, but the days have been zooming by so fast.

Nancy left off at our day to the castle…..

We woke up bright and early to head to the LEGO house in Billund. A quick 45-minute bus ride and boom, we were there. I instantly jumped off the bus and ran toward the giant yellow staircase that descends from the second story of the building. (I, later, found out that the area was closed… oops!) We received a wonderful tour from a LEGO representative and learned about all the fantastic things you could do there. The entire house is constructed around the idea of learning through play. Therefore, each of the different sections of the house targeted vital skills that the LEGO family wants children to develop when they go to the LEGO house.  

The red room was all about creativity; there were boxes and boxes of Legos that you could build whatever you wanted with. The blue room is concerned with problem-solving. You could create a race car and see how fast you could make it go. Or play an interactive game where you moved buildings around to satisfy digital Lego figures. And there was another section where you could make a fish out of legos and have a program digitize your fish and put it in an aquarium. The yellow room dealt with emotions; you could make a flower (which was actually super tricky, and I could imagine getting very frustrated) or a bug that would “come to life.” Finally, the green room was about social interaction. In this room, you could create mini figures with a billion different combinations of heads, hats, accessories, bodies, and hairstyles. You could make a motion stop film with your figurines. You could also spend hours observing the world that professional LEGO builders made that told hundreds of different stories.  All in all… it was an experience never to forget.

On Friday, we debriefed about some of the things we had learned so far and connected what we were observing and experiencing with the literature we had been reading during the trip. A theme that came up a few times was how many of the different institutions we looked at had a similar approach to how children learn and play. There has been an emphasis thus far toward giving children the tools to build and create without a template, without the expectations of a particular something they should be learning or building. This can be seen clearly from our trip to the culture house where there was a workshop full of tools and recyclable materials where children could imagine and create. A similar space was the Lego design studio, in which children are given a general task to create a mechanism that. For example, noise, except there are hundreds of different ways to meet that criteria and not a single “correct answer.”

Monday, we visited a refugee and deportation center called Sjaelsmark Deportation Center. Many students had different experiences and reactions to being here, so I do not wish to speak on behalf of the class because my emotions and experience could have differed widely from another student’s. When we came back to the classroom Deewa, a guest speaker, told us about her experience of being a refugee and contextualize some of the things we saw at Sjaelsmark. She emphasized how the media shapes our views regarding refugees and one of the main takeaways from Deewa’s story is to not see refugees as being hopeless or weak (like the media portrays) and seeing refugees as strong and just people who want to live.  

That’s all from me, folks. Look forward to Nancy’s blog post, where she is featuring each student about something they learned in Denmark.

Denmark One!

This is the first in a series of blog posts from Whitties studying on Whitman’s Crossroads: Denmark program this summer with Professor Michelle Janning. This blog post is by Kyle.

Wow, am I tired! Depending on where people started, many of us began our days at 3 am. We flew out of Walla Walla at 5 am. 

Over 24 hours of travel, and we are finally in Denmark! The students were immediately picked up by their host families. Funny story… I looked up my host dad on LinkedIn and thought I had found the correct man, but when my host dad came to pick me up, I realized I had looked up the wrong person. I think he could tell I was shocked, which made things a bit awkward in the car. But he is a great man and makes some funny jokes which eased the tension.

After a much-needed shower and collapsing onto our beds, we were expected at the Circus at 8:30 am sharp! (No rest for the weary travelers).  The Circus is a beautiful building that had actually been a circus in the 19th century but is now used for events such as DIS orientation or music awards etc.

We were treated to a performance by an up and coming musician named Drew, and also received anecdotal stories about past students getting lost in the city. Once that had concluded, Professor Janning gave a walking tour around DIS. We saw our classroom, that famous street with all the colored buildings (Nørrebro) and the walking street.   Then we were given three hours for lunch. 

After we were sent on our way home. I had a difficult time navigating the public transportation system, but after a good hour, I had finally made it home only to find that the key access to the house was having some difficulties. But I managed to get in, and then I was lucky enough to see my host sister’s soccer game! Her team won two to zero, which was quite the upset against the other team. It is funny and reassuring to know that Denmark parents act just the same as American parents when their children are in sports.

At dinner, my host sister asked me the dreaded question of if I could say “Rødgrød med Fløde” which is a Danish tongue twister because it has a lot of difficult sounds for non-Danish speakers to pronounce. Here is a video of people pronouncing it. Give it a try! Kyle is signing off and going to bed, good night!