It was a memorable day for the the community of Viborg Katedralskole! The former Danish Prime Minister and current Secretary General of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen visited his ‘old school’ for several hours (on the day when the Danish election was announced). His speech to the students was well-received and he answered questions for quite a long time before being interviewed by the Danish media.
The Secretary General’s visit is a demonstration of the importance of successful ex-students supporting the institutions that nurtured them in youth. I am sure ‘Anders’, who I met and photographed, had a range of reasons for visiting the school and one in particular, makes for a good story. Aleksander, a student and keen blogger, with strong political views, told me how he wrote to Anders last year, resulting in the former Prime Minister responding and returning to the school. Aleksander has had the opportunity to personally meet and discuss issues with his political hero as a result.
Of course, I admire that such a young man is so motivated and I am sure that Anders was especially impressed with the poise Aleksander displayed today. His introduction, in front of the whole school, was amusing and confident. Aleksander had his autograph book ready for Anders, who had last signed it is 2001. His peers really enjoyed the performance of both leaders.
It was quite a privilege for me to observe the Secretary General during the course of the day and I thank the rektor, Helge Markussen, for introducing me and arranging that I shadow, with my camera. The life of a politician is clearly a busy one. We know that. Watching Anders operate today was fascinating and he was certainly focused for hours, as he went from one task to the next, in a very relaxed fashion, in what is clearly a very busy time for NATO.
Interestingly enough, Anders talked about the importance of social media in his speech. His point, that regimes, like that in Libya, can no longer silence the population because of Twitter, Facebook and the internet. This is clearly true for democratic governments too.
I am sure regular readers and friends would be amused to know I managed to talk with Anders about looking out for some tweets, later on in the day, from the new school account.
It has been a richly rewarding and thoroughly stimulating week in Viborg. On Monday, Stig Glent-Madsen, a judge at the High Court of Western Denmark (Vestre Landsret), gave Kate (my partner) and I, a guided tour of his workplace. It was a great insight into the workings of the Danish legal system and much else besides. Stig is the Chair of the Viborg Katedralskole Board and the Danish Refugee Council (DRC). I was particularly interested in the work of the DRC and their advocacy for refugees. Here is the mission statement, and one notes:
No refugee must be in want of help to find protection and durable solutions. And nobody who wishes to be integrated into Danish society must be in want of help to do so
Stig spoke very highly of Princess Mary’s role as the patron of the DRC and was highly impressed with her work on a visit to Uganda in 2008.
Thanks Stig, Kate and I really valued your insights, generosity and openness!
The week just kept getting better. My colleagues, teaching English at the school, had a gathering last night and I dined like a Danish king. Everyone made a special effort to give me a taste of Denmark. It was fantastic! The company was great and discussions amusing. Rikke has a lovely home and the family collection of old cameras was a pleasant surprise.
We really have had an action-packed week. In our family life I have blogged about our trips to Legoland with Lars and Solveig and Lucy played football with her Danish club (she is on international loan from Kiama Purple).
It has been a week to remember and tomorrow, we visit Skive. Helge will show us around the sights and has invited us to his home.
SLIDER IMAGE: cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo by Darcy Moore: http://flickr.com/photos/darcymoore/6083152690/