Hari Neupane lives in Nordvest where he has passed Danish Language Exam 3 at IA Sprog. Now he is running for a seat in the City Council of Copenhagen. His key issues are integration, sustainability and mixed-income housing.
In the midst of the hectic election campaign, among other things participating in the election meeting here at IA Sprog, Hari took the time to tell us his story – about why he came to Denmark, about why it is important to learn Danish and about his political ambitions.
Hari is 38 years old and comes from Nepal. He is a graduate in political science and has worked as a teacher and as an independent ‘hostel warden’.
He wanted to continue his education, and because that was not an option in Nepal, he looked for opportunities to continue his studies abroad. Denmark was his choice because, on the one hand, he had a friend who lived in the country, and on the other hand, he sees Denmark as one of the world’s most developed and civilized countries. So Hari applied for and was granted a residence permit as a student in Denmark. That was in 2008.
Important to speak the language of the place you live
Hari started out by taking an at ZIBAT (Zealand Institute of Business and Technology) in Køge and then proceeded to complete a master’s degree in International Business at Niels Brock. That took about 5 years all together.
At the same time, he attended Danish classes and passed his Danish Language Exam 3 in 2012. It is important to speak the language spoken in the place you live, Hari believes:
“At IA Sprog I followed the Intensive course and focused on pronunciation. Homework took 2-3 hours every day, and at the same time I had to work and manage my studies. In the beginning it was difficult and quite tough. But with time it became easier and easier. On top of homework I read a lot of newspapers, in particular Metroxpress, BT’s online version and news at Denmark’s national radio: Danmarks Radio Ligetil.”
Working as a cleaner when you have a university degree
Hari’s first job in Denmark was as a cleaner with a municipal cleaning service. He worked there for a total of 7 years from 2010-2017.
“I am often asked why I worked as a cleaner, when I had a university degree. I answer that as a new Dane you have to start by taking the jobs you can get. Even if it might not fit your level of education, but you gain knowledge of Danish workplace culture and values. That knowledge is necessary in order to perform well at a Danish workplace.”
As a cleaning assistant Hari spoke English in the beginning, but quickly switched to Danish. His greatest feeling of success with the Danish language was when he was after 2 years elected as the union representative in the cleaning service.
As a volunteer for Save the Children I learn more and more
Hari has always been interested in politics and volunteer work:
“My intention is to participate in volunteer work and be politically active. My ambition is to become a politician in Folketinget and make a difference in the field of integration.”
Hari has worked as a volunteer at Save the Children for 4 years, first as a fundraiser and the last 2 years as a coordinator in the national fundraising event. Through the volunteer work he becomes a part of new communities, he develops his grasp of the Danish language, broadens his network, exchanges experiences with others and feels that he is learning more every day.
Of course hoping to be elected as a representative to the city council
In his childhood home in Nepal there were lots of political discussions which set Hari’s own thoughts in motion. The political interest was all about equality, including women’s rights.
In 2012, Hari became a member of Socialdemokratiet, the Social Democratic Party in Denmark, and he has since then been very politically active. He picked Socialdemokratiet because it is one of the largest parties in Denmark, who fight for equality, freedom and solidarity. Integration is also at the center of the ideology of Socialdemokratiet. But the party has taken a u-turn in immigration policy, which is something the Hari is fighting against inwardly in the party:
“If I get a wound on my finger, I don’t cut it off, I instead provide proper and caring treatment.”
Hari also serves on the party’s central integration committee along with 9 other party colleagues. Here they debate how to find a balanced solution to the refugee crisis – and to integration in general.
Refugee mentor and Role Model
For the last few years, Hari has worked as a refugee mentor in the municipality of Tårnby in cooperation with the association for non-ethnic Danes, Foreningen Nydanskere, and at FIU Ligestilling, the joint internal union training program, and as a Role Model in the municipality of Copenhagen. He visits schools, language schools, SOPU, SOSU training programs etc. and tells his own story.
But right now Hari is very busy with the election campaign leading up to the municipal elections on the 21st of November. His key issues are integration, sustainability and cheaper mixed-income housing. Hari lives in Nordvest with his wife and two daughters, five and nine years old. The eldest girl, Zenisha, has a lot of fun at her father’s expense when he makes mistakes in his pronunciation or wording.
Learn more about Hari on his Facebook page.
Watch the video from the election meeting at IA Sprog November 8, 2017: