Today our students (as well as all the gymnasium students in DK) were not at school.
Because today was Operation Dagsværk.
Every year on a Wednesday in November gymnasium students in Denmark work together on a project from around the globe....last year the focus was on Zimbabwe and this year it is on Peru; specifically the human rights of the people living in Peru's rainforest. The idea behind Operation Dagsværk is that students are excused from one day of school in order to participate in different initiatives to raise money for the project. The goal is that each student raise 300dkk .... (There are 58 gymnasiums in our region so if each one has an average of 300 students and there are five regions in DK... you do the math! It could really amount to a great deal of money going to a very worthy cause!)
Sadly some students take advantage of the day off and just pay the 300dkk themselves instead of actually participating in some type of work/project during the day. But instead of talking about those that abuse the day, I want to tell you about one that really understood what the day was supposed to represent....and he has only been living in Denmark for a little more than two months.
Petru Cotarcea came to Herning Gymnasium from Romania this year. He is new to Denmark and to Danish culture, but he is not new to the concept of GIVING. He is a violinist... a very good violinist in fact. As one of the school's International Coordinators, I have the privilege of working quite a bit with Petru.... but today I saw another side of him.
Petru came to us with the idea of using his violin as a way to collect donations for Operation Dagsværk so I arranged with the manager of the Herning Center for him to come and set up a spot within the "Herning Mall" where he could play. We printed posters to advertise what he was collecting the money for and then at 10:30 this morning, I dropped him off at the shopping center.
I hoped and prayed that he would have a good reception because I thought it was incredible that he had the idea to SHARE a PART OF HIMSELF with the community as a way to raise the funds. He texted me at 12.45 to let me know that he was ready to be picked up and brought back to the school to turn in his collections.
When I picked him up, I asked if many had stopped to listen to him play and of those, if any had made any donations. He seemed a bit disappointed when he told me that many had stopped, but that most had only given coins. I smiled, knowing that he (like me when I first moved here) thought of "coins" as not being very valuable....however, in DK, our coins are worth several US DOLLARS!
We got back to the school and began to count his money..... (and in the back of my mind, I was just hoping he would have enough to make the individual student goal of 300dkk).... However, I should not have been worried because the people of Herning came through! As this young man gave a part of himself to those walking through the Herning Center today, they, in turn, gave something as well... EIGHT HUNDRED and FIFTY SEVEN KRONER to be exact.
I thoroughly enjoy having Petru at Herning Gymnasium and will miss him when he leaves us at the end of the year, but I think that the mark he is leaving on our lives is one that we will not soon forget. Now it's your turn to enjoy some of his music... (this video is from 2010)