My dialogue with Stefan


   Stefan is a Danish student, he was spending his summer school at Vallekilde High School, and I knew from him that he and other students in his group have a new task which is to make a journalist Dialogue with the Arab participants of ADDA during their stay at Vallekilde High School, and he chased me saying that he would like to know more about me through questions he have. So I accepted his invitation and we established some short sessions to discuss some points and differences between the Egyptian and Danish cultures.

The Educational system in Denmark , allow study for one full year before joining college, it’s the perfect period for the student to join a school that provide informal education, where he can learn special subjects like science, economy, politics, culture, and even arts as painting and music, witch is a very good help for the student to decide which high education he would really like to have.

I had a great chance to visit Vallekilde High School which considered one of the oldest informal schools in Denmark, it was founded in 1865. I spent about 15 days in Vallekilde High School through the second Arab Danish Democracy Academy program – ADDA 2007 , Organized by Danish-Egyptian Dialogue Institute (DEDI) cooperated with International Academy for Education and Democracy, and the dialog was hosted by Vallekilde High School.

Stefan has started his dialog asking me some general question about what I think about Denmark and if I liked the country or not, and what was the most things took my attention, and some other personal questions about my age and my career, and if I am married and so on.. Until we reached a very important question came with two parts. What are the experiences that you can take with you thinking that your country will derive benefit from? And what are those experiences that you would like to give them to Denmark? I simply answered that there are two experiences or experiments I would love to see in Egypt my country, first is the great respectful experiment of democracy that you have in Denmark, and the second is the informal education that I knew it exist in my country but not with the same assets and concepts, and not having the same value that exist in Denmark.

And about those experiences that I would like to provide them to Denmark, Stefan was really surprised, and seem confused of the way dialog changed, and I don’t know if he noticed that I was the one who was dialogging with him at this moment.. What a great experiences and experiments that I would like to transfer from the Middle East to the West!


The first experience was Religion, when I asked Steven about his faith, and he answered me sometimes he believe in God and some other times he erased God from existing is his life. I said to him that religion is a unique experiment that he should dive deeply into once he had a chance and feelings to do it, we as Muslims believe strongly that God exists, and we feel it inside of us and in everything around us, and we believe it not because we born as Muslims, but there were lots of stop points for eachone of us, and a deep close examination was the reasons behind believing. And me myself I went very faraway from God , but I just came back because there is no other truth for me.

Hope and Dream

The second experience is hope and dream. When I asked Stefan about his dream in this life, he stopped for a minute to think about it, and then he answered me like a baby, an answer that draws a smile on his face. Stefan said he still young to think about that, I asked my second question about, if he have any plan setup for his life, he said no. I told Steven that my Danish friends have the same answer but they are older than him with 10 years, and they believe they are still young and have lots of time to dream and set plans in their lives, then I told him that I can see him after 10 years from now carrying the same thoughts and ideas about life simply because he don’t need to dream or to set a plan for his life because all what you expect from this life you can find it easily, and the challenges of his life doesn’t need a dream or a plan. And I told him that this experience about the Arab youth I want you to tell your people about it, because I expect that you will become a great journalist in the future. The Arab youth are under pressure since they came into this life, and they suffer facing big challenges in all fields, all educational means are not enough for them, and they have to educate themselves somehow, for them, democracy exists only in books not in real life, that’s why the Hope and Dream play a big role in our lives as Arab youth, in the other hand ,this generate lots of plans inside youth minds seeking to achieve them in this life. We can not live with out hope and dream.

Older People and Family

The third experience in my opinion was in general about family and particularly about older people problems. Any one can think from the first look that you rarely meet kids and older people. Where these two groups disappeared in Denmark streets?

If we look to the advanced educational system in Denmark, we will realize that the system came with lots benefits, but that doesn’t mean its perfect, the educational system produce new challenges for the Danish society. One of the most big challenges is separating the older people from the society, and this make them angry and not satisfied, government and intellectuals are unable to solve these problem till now. The problem is Danish don’t have time to spend with family, that’s why we can divide the Danish society into three parts from my opinion (students–workers–retired). Kids are under students part, and they are in the nursery almost all day time until 5pm, that’s why we cannot see them in the streets or even walking with their parents, at this point I would like to mention that there is different concept of nursery in Denmark than the middle east, nursery for Danish was the way to insure opportunity for mothers that they want to work and have a job out of her house. The Middle Eastern mothers have another way of thinking, lots of them just want to send their kids to nursery to teach them and give them the chance to communicate with other kids even if the mother doesn’t work.Workers are from graduated to retired age , the retired people and older people don’t have what they expected from the society and they are separated from it, and all what they have is these old age home that created by the government, and the monthly amount of money to insure basic needs of living. The country omitted their feelings and their joining them to the society in a way or another. The Old Danish man became that insane that has to be separated from society and nobody need him.

That time, I asked Stefan whether he is afraid from getting old or not, and these obsessions that could run after him, and when he imagine the picture of his inevitable destiny, that he will be the same old unwanted man who is separated from society. A despair look reflected on Steven eyes, and I pointed to him that lots of work is waiting for him to change what people couldn’t change before, especially under the great Danish democracy umbrella.


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