Helping refugees in Copenhagen

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Woman giving presentation to people seated around table (© AmCham Denmark)
At a mentoring session hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce in Denmark (AmCham Denmark), Nanna Dyrbye Benting discusses how to structure a story to grab people’s attention. (© AmCham Denmark)

Starting over in a new country as a refugee can seem daunting or even impossible, especially when it comes to finding a job or resuming a career.

When Tom Crane Mulinda arrived in Denmark from Uganda four years ago, he had no place to stay, no friends and no professional connections.

“I did not know where to start from,” he said in a video interview. “So it was really very hard for me.”

Through a refugee ambassador program supported by the U.S. Embassy in Denmark, the American Chamber of Commerce and the Association of New Danes, Mulinda started an internship with the nonprofit study abroad program DIS Copenhagen. This internship eventually led to a job with the company, where he helps students acclimate to the city and master the logistics of studying abroad.

Now, Mulinda says his own life has changed for the better. He is living his dreams in Copenhagen.

One of many

He is just one of thousands with similar stories. Between 2014 and 2015, approximately 36,000 refugees arrived in Denmark from countries such as Syria, Somalia and Uganda.

To welcome highly skilled refugees to their new home, the Association of New Danes, with the support of the U.S. Embassy, offers mentorship and internship programs. Of 250 participants in the programs, most report that the experience gives them better access to the Danish job market and that they are closer to finding a job.

“The programs have fostered a huge sense of community within the companies that have run the programs,” said Trine Lundgaard Hoffmann, the project manager for the Association of New Danes. She said the mentors in companies that are helping refugees use words such as “pride” and “team spirit” when reporting on their experiences for internal surveys.


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