The List sat down with the organisers of Språk- og kulturfestivalen to figure out how cultural hubs come about and why they are so important for the local community. This article was written in partnership with Trondheim Kommune.
All of us who’ve found our way to Trondheim want to integrate and feel at home in the city. But does that mean we have to throw out our own culture wholesale, strap on cross-country skis, and make tacos every Friday?
Create your place in Trondheim
Kerim Kara and Hasan Sen are both from Turkey originally but their paths to Trondheim were completely different. While Hasan began by moving to Oslo and then Bodø before finding the perfect sweet spot in Trondheim, Kerim came here directly from sunny Vietnam where he lived for 11 years.
“Of course, Norway is completely different from Vietnam, but the things I learned there helped me integrate faster in Trondheim,” says Kerim. Having lived in a foreign country and dealing with the challenges that come with that before, he knew he’d need to be truly part of the society if he intended to settle here. “One way to do that is to understand what the society needs, and then try to fill that gap.”
When Kerim heard that the Språk- og kulturfestivalen (SKF) in Oslo was looking for someone to start it up in Trondheim, he threw himself into the project along with dedicated volunteers from all over the world and held the first SKF in Trondheim in 2018.
From idea to reality
It was clear that the project needed support to get off the ground, which the team found at Trondheim Kommune. “I was so new here and had never done anything like this before. If I were them at the time I wouldn’t have supported me,” says Kerim and laughs. Luckily, they saw the potential and through Arrangementskontoret – the specialised department for aiding cultural activities in the city – they provided invaluable support on everything from securing a location and permits to finding grants and financial support. “Without their help, none of this would be possible,” says Kerim.
Hasan admits putting on a festival every year with dozens of other volunteers is a lot of work, but emphasises how rewarding it is. “Not only do we get to experience new cultures but I also learned so much from the other volunteers. The support everyone provides for each other is incredible.”
How a community is built
One might think that joining an internationally minded project would be more of a side-step than direct integration into the local community, but that’s far from the truth. “This project helped me to get to know people from 60 different nations, and also grow my local network and learn Norwegian faster as I had to communicate with so many people,” says Kerim.
“All the people who join the festival live here in Trøndelag. I’m originally from Turkey, but now I’m also kind of Norwegian. That’s the great thing about this festival as it breaks the myth of Norwegian society being homogenous,” says Hasan. More than 150 nationalities live in Trondheim and the interest has been so great that SKF has grown into a bi-weekly Kulturkafe, which is also supported by the Kommune.
“Culture is important because it gets to the core of who you are,” says Kerim. “When you realise ‘Oh wow, I have a place to show my beautiful culture’ you feel more understood and accepted. You start to feel more ownership of the community you live in.”
Becoming a part of the community is beautiful, and you can do it while keeping your own culture very much alive – and discovering new ones at the same time!
Create your own event
“Creating events and local hubs is a way for people to meet and connect. Supporting an initiative like SKF is perfectly in line with Trondheim Kommune’s wishes for our citizens: Enjoying inclusive spaces where it’s easy to connect with new people and be open to new experiences,” says Stine Kvam from the Arrangementskontoret. So, if you’re interested in making your impact, follow these steps:
Read the arrangorguide.no for practical tips (in Norwegian) and talk to people around you. It’s always easier – and more fun – to get things done as a group!
Go to this link and get in touch with Arrangementskontoret. The website also includes a section in English with basic information on how to get started!
This article originally appeared in The List Summer Magazine 2023 and was written in partnership with Trondheim Kommune.