Gin from Bilbao, Spain, is studying on the master’s degree program in bioinformatics at Aarhus University. They* spend a great deal of their free time on activism and are involved in several groups and movements in Aarhus.
Keeping track of 23-year-old Gin’s extracurricular activities is no easy feat. In addition to their studies at Aarhus University, Gin is active in several movements and local groups working towards a more sustainable and socially equitable world.
Fresh start in Aarhus
Gin was already involved with the global climate activist movement Extinction Rebellion when they first arrived in Aarhus as an exchange student in 2020. A friend suggested to Gin that they go to one of the monthly information meetings for prospective volunteers at Café Mellemfolk, a café run by the NGO Mellemfolkeligt Samvirke (ActionAid).
That first evening at Café Mellemfolk turned out to be pivotal for the course of Gin’s life in Aarhus. Here, tucked away from the Latin quarter’s cobble-stoned streets, they discovered a community of like-minded people and an environment in which they feel safe and accepted for who they are.
“There is a really good environment here at Café Mellemfolk,” says Gin. “The volunteer group is a mix of students and professionals, Danes and internationals, of all different ages. Everyone is kind and open.”
Mellemfolk and food waste café
Gin has become so fond of life in Aarhus that they have chosen to continue their studies here. They are often at Café Mellemfolk; either behind the bar serving cappuccinos, or in a comfy armchair discussing literature with the ‘Queer Club’, which she is co-coordinating.
Gin also lends a hand washing dishes at the food waste café in Sydhavnen, where volunteers prepare and hand out surplus food to those in need of a hot meal.
The global climate activism movement Extinction Rebellion has local groups in 86 countries. XR organises disruptive, non-violent actions with the aim of pressuring governments into taking appropriate climate action.
The power of many
A burning desire to change the world for the better provides Gin with the energy they need to commit themselves so fully to voluntary work and activism while studying full-time. “If you want to make an impact, activism is the way forward,” they say. “Of course, you can do little bits here and there on your own that will benefit the climate, such as dialing down your consumption, but by acting as a collective we can really achieve results,” says Gin.
Climate action in Aarhus
Since living in Aarhus, Gin has participated in several actions organized by the local Extinction Rebellion movement. In 2021 they participated in the so-called “Rebellion of One,” where 10-12 activists spread across Aarhus disrupted traffic and attracted the attention of locals by sitting down in the middle of the road holding a sign with a text describing a personal concern about the climate crisis. “I’m terrified of the climate crisis because the most vulnerable will suffer the most,” Gin’s sign read.
Network through activism
Local activist communities have helped Gin settle into life in Aarhus. “They are a fantastic opportunity to meet new people and build a social network when you are in a new city,” says Gin.
Studies abroad are ideal
A semester abroad is an ideal time to seek out local activist groups, says Gin. “As an exchange student you get an opportunity to break routine and start afresh,” they explain. “You have the chance to experiment and put yourself in roles and environments that you had not necessarily sought out at home.”