Evelyn and Agnete

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Photo: Suste Bonnén

As a refugee from Indonesia, Evelyn spent much time at her local library in Denmark. But she didn't imagine that she would find her mentor there!

Evelyn and Agnete met for the first time at Silkeborg's Library and their first talks were about books. "I loved going to the library and used it quite often", remembers Evelyn. " Agnete works there and she was always very professional and helpful."

However, Evelyn could not have imagined that she would find Agnete attending one of KVINFO's Mentor Network information meetings organized by her language school. When they were formally introduced to each other as mentor and mentee, Evelyn was very pleased.

Evelyn was born in Jakarta, Indonesia, and came to the Denmark as a refugee in September 2003. She reunited here with her husband, who is also from Indonesia, and had arrived earlier. In January 2005, Evelyn got her permanent residency, and in October that same year she started learning Danish.

She was trained as a secretary and had experience in trade. She wanted a mentor who could help her find a job in this sector. So initially, she did not expect to be matched with a librarian.

But though Agnete has worked at Silkeborg's Library since 1971, her interests are broad and she felt she could be supportive in many contexts. Agnete loves traveling, learning foreign languages, and playing the piano and the violin. Her life has been full of good literature and cultural activities, and she has been actively involved in the library's efforts to support immigrants in learning Danish and understanding Danish culture. " For me, it is hard to understand  that some people show no interest in meeting foreigners living in Denmark", says Agnete. " It is such a great opportunity".

Once matched, Evelyn and Agnete met every 14 days on average, and as their friendship grew, they met more frequently. Evelyn has been good at tackling professional challenges. She started with a part-time job as cleaning assistant at a local school to ensure herself some financial independence. When the right time came, she interviewed with an academic advisor from Århus Business School and received a partial assessment of her previous education. She was able to enroll in an international program to obtain the degree she needed to find her job in trade.

Agnete and Evelyn have shared a lot of reflections about Danish society and the practicalities of living in Denmark. Now Agnete is elated to see that Evelyn, on her own, has moved several steps toward her dream job:

"Evelyn is a full time student and mother of 3 lovely children. It is tough, but she can handle it. I like her as a person and respect her drive very much."

For Agnete the chemistry is a crucial aspect of a mentor relationship. "As a mentor I tried to support Evelyn as much as I could and be there for her. After more than 3 years of knowing each other, we have a very fine friendship.  We are happy to relax a bit together and attend the summer ballet, or perhaps a good concert or a day at the beach with Evelyn's wonderful kids".

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