HCA NEWS Hans Christian Andersen Scholarship aids 17-year-old refugee

He arrived in Denmark from Kosovo at the age of twelve - haunted by his experiences and with all odds against him. With help from the Hans Christian Andersen Scholarship "The Hans Christian Andersen Aid" worth DKK 6000 he has turned his back on several years of lost school attendance and become a well-adjusted schoolboy who dreams of becoming a dentist.

By ms - H.C. Andersen 2005 - 14 April 2004

Vedat Shemsiu is a 17-year-old well-adjusted immigrant in Denmark. With diligence and determination he has learnt fluent Danish and has in just five years become a fully integrated member of Danish society - with a little help from the Hans Christian Andersen Scholarship worth DKK 6000.

He had all odds against him when he arrived in Denmark from Kosovo at the age of twelve. He was haunted by his experiences in Kosovo, which he still does not talk of, and handicapped by several years of lost school attendance. In addition, the one-room living conditions at the refugee centre in Denmark where he lived with his parents and three siblings when he first arrived were far from accommodating.

"I consider myself reborn in Denmark at the age of 13. I don't want to think of the past," Vedat says to local daily Fyens Stiftstidende.
Diligent pupil Every year, the Hans Christian Andersen Scholarship - known as the Hans Christian Andersen Aid - is granted to a diligent schoolboy attending a school in the municipality of Odense. As an exceptionally hardworking pupil at Sedan Secondary School, Vedat was an obvious candidate.

His teachers quoted the following reasons for their choice:

"...What we especially emphasise is the fact that he speaks fluent Danish, that he is very popular among peers and teachers alike and that he has a wonderful twinkle in his eye. He has shown that you can go far with the right get-up-and-go attitude, despite bad odds."

"I study 1-2 hours daily and read short stories, novels and poems to better learn Danish and learn more about Denmark," Vedat Shemsiu says.

Next year he will attend high school and depending on his grades he will study to become a dentist.

"It's a dream I've had since I was nine - and it was nourished when I came to Denmark where I had a full dental check-up. I will do anything to reach my goal," says Vedat.