Kamilla and Nana

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Photo: Suste Bonnén

“I didn’t need to integrate; I needed inspiration and a professional network!” says Kamilla about coming from Uzbekistan to Denmark.

Kamilla came to Denmark in 2002 as an exchange student from Uzbekistan. She found out about KVINFO’s Mentor Network in late 2006 during a seminar in Aarhus City Hall, and she immediately decided to join. She has been happy in Denmark. So happy that she decided to stay, even though her family still lives in Uzbekistan. Kamilla has a boyfriend, good friends, and she had no problem learning the Danish language. She initially wanted a mentor who could help her find a student job or an internship with an international company.

Kamilla knew she needed some help to find a good job. She was matched with Nana. Long before she became a mentor, Nana had contemplated the various possibilities of doing voluntary work. She was especially interested in programmes helping immigrants gain access to Danish society. She was fed-up with the negative focus of the public debate on immigration and integration. Nana has a degree in Political Science and also studied Journalism and Mass Communication. Early in her career she worked in broadcast journalism. Later, she earned her Masters degree in Corporate Communications before being hired by IBM’s corporate communications department.

The first time Kamilla and Nana met, they immediately gave each other a hug. It was a spontaneous reaction and it felt right. For Kamilla the gesture was an indication of how open Nana was: “She was truly friendly. What a pleasant surprise to discover that our meeting was not ‘business as usual’ for her.” From that moment on, they saw each other as much as possible. They usually met to drink a good cup of coffee and talk about Kamilla’s education.

“I focused on discussing Corporate Communications on a practical and theoretical level,” explains Nana, “because Kamilla wanted to pursue a career similar to mine, and so we could use my training and experience.”

In August 2008, Kamilla graduated from her Masters degree course in Corporate Communications with straight As. “It is true that I did things independently,” says Kamilla, “but, to be honest, there are things you can’t do on your own. I really needed inspiration and contacts. Nana was my professional counsellor, my coach and my friend.”

Nana smiles and says that Kamilla is too good to be true. “She knows my daughter very well and I am delighted to think of Kamilla as a role model for her. The role model of a person who has created her own destiny, a great example of how to be a truly powerful girl!”

After working part-time for the past two years, Kamilla has just been offered a permanent position with promising career prospects.

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