Danish-American Exchange Program

In the seventies several American educators and dance leaders were inspired by Danish sports leadership, social community life, and folk education. These inspirations, to a large extent combined the mind, heart, and soul in a holistic noncompetitive manner.

The leaders were impressed by the so-called “folkelighed,” which translates into “peopleness and togetherness.” The Danish counterpart is the former DDGU now known as DGI (Danish Gymnastics & Sports Association).

The elite and Olympic Games orientated organization in Denmark is called DIF (Denmark’s Idraets Forbund = Denmark’s Sports Federation).

With the help of the Berea College recreation director, John Ramsay, as one of the Danish-American Exchange (DAE) enforcers the knowledge of this program has spread to many groups and individuals. More than 2500 people have had the opportunity to cross the Atlantic Ocean in order to exchange ideas, experiences, and share friendship.

Since 1993, Berea College and the Folk Circle Association of Berea invites a Danish DGI individual to Berea in order to inspire, buildup, implement, and maintain the best ideas from the “folkelige.” The focus of the program is on Danish style gymnastics and movements, folk dancing, leadership, exchange programs, and other sports.

Contacts have spread to various parts of America, such as Kansas, Michigan, W. Virginia, New Jersey, North Carolina, Virginia, and etc. However, Kentucky seems to be the home base for the DAE Program. Berea College has expanded its cooperation with the DGI and Danish educational institutions which is a very important step in the right direction. Thanks to great efforts and commitment among new leaders at Berea College and within the DGI USA subcommittee.

Apart from Berea College activities, the rest of DAE is not really organized with boards and committees, but it is up to each individual and group to seek contact with Danish counterparts.

A good idea has turned out to inspire hundreds of Americans and Danes for more than 30 years. These cultural exchanges have led to life long friendships, business relations, love, and lots of activity across the Atlantic Ocean.