Today I finally got to see inside of the system. For the past few days, I have met with people from the ministry of education, people from the universities here, students who student special education and so forth. But today, today I got to visit a school/club for people ages 12 and up with disabilities. A man explained to us how the place is run and things finally started making sense.
From the day I got here people have been trying to explain this thing called a pedagog. It’s different than a teacher because it’s way more broad. Someone who is a social pedagog here would be compared to social worker, counselor, and paraprofessional all in one if they were back home. They can work with any type of person in any age range they choose.
Yesterday we met with a man from LEV, a really great organization and advocacy group for people with special needs. He has a brother who needed extra assistance growing up and has been a big advocate for people with disabilities since. They building was color coded by section, there were tracks on the floor for people who used a cane and were blind, the railings broke up sound in the lobby and had holes in them so people in wheelchairs could still see through them. I was told it is the most accessible building ever, and I believe it. There are doors that can be opened by someone’s feet, or even through bluetooth on a phone. The building aside, our speaker has such clear passion. His dedication was immense. He definitely held my attention. It was incredible to see someone from across the world talk about this population with the same enthusiasm as we do back home. The only impression of special education outside of North America I have was from Kenya, and if any of you remember that, I was less than pleased with their treatment. After a couple days of somewhat monotonous lectures, this man from LEV gave me a nice energy boost. I felt like I was getting closer to the reason I cam here to study in the first place.
Today, however, it all clicked. I was speaking to people who were not just going over the laws and the history of special needs in Denmark, but they were implementing the ideas and carrying out their hopes for this group of people I am hoping to work with. I watched scooter races, a mean game of fooseball, and I got down on the dance floor with people who were dancing harder than I was. Part of me felt that sense of “camp magic” I get over the summer. It made me feel at home. It made me understand that these people, this organization, is doing what I love to do and I can respect every person I met in that building today. It’s so beautiful to see those interactions again. To toss balloons back and forth, get hugs and kisses on the cheek, and to effortlessly have a smile plastered on my face. Yes, the language barrier is frustrating at times for both myself and the individual trying to communicate with me, but once I got passed that, I couldn’t have been happier.
Today is the reason I am here and it is the reason I love this field.