Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen announced his country will fund 10 scholarships for students from the University of the Virgin Islands to study at one semester at a Danish university.
Rasmussen made the announcement Saturday at UVI’s St. Thomas campus.
Rasmussen has been on the islands to mark the centennial of Transfer Day – the day in 1917 when ownership of the islands was transferred from Denmark to the United States. He alluded to the scholarship program in speeches he gave on Transfer Day ceremonies on Friday, during which he condemned slavery.
“We are supporting students in the Virgin Islands so that they have the best possible conditions to create the prosperity that the islands deserve,” the prime minister said in an email.
Rasmussen gave the details in a joint press conference with UVI President David Hall.
“The commitment by Prime Minister Rasmussen and the Danish government will assist us in achieving one of our important educational goals for UVI students, which is to expose them to the world,” Hall said. “Having 10 UVI students per year spend time at a university in Denmark will certainly provide support for this strategic educational value, and help prepare them to be world leaders.”
The program will pay for student tuition and living costs in Denmark. Aalborg and Copenhagen University already have existing partnerships which may work in the program.
The first scholarships will be granted to students in 2018.
The government will fund the scholarship program by dedicating an amount in the Danish Finance Act for 2018. The administration of the funds will be anchored at Danish universities.
The program of approximately $143,000 per year will run for a period of five years.
Hall told the Source in an email he appreciated both the offer and the spirit in which it was was made.
“I was impressed with the Prime Minister’s sincerity and thoughtfulness in regards to the past injustices and oppression that were inflicted upon the people of the Virgin Islands through Danish colonization. I also see this financial commitment as a contribution toward creating a brighter future for the Virgin Islands. It is an important first step in the building of a strong and lasting relationship between the University of the Virgin Islands and the Danish government and people,” he said.
The Danish government is also contributing an additional $435,000 to the funding of projects and organizations for the commemoration of the centennial. Some of the projects are in the Virgin Islands and others are in Denmark. According to a fact sheet released by the Danish government, contributions will be made to the through the Danish Minister of culture.
They include in the Virgin Islands:
– Queen Louise Home for Children on St. Croix.
– My Brother’s Workshop in St. Thomas.
– Local Danish friendship associations, supporting their work in strengthening the connections between the Virgin Islands and Denmark.
– The Copenhagen Boys Choir’s concert tour to the US Virgin Islands in April/May 2017.
– Restoration of a former Danish sugar plantation residence in St. Croix, which today is a museum.
– In Search of Identity, a private project to raise funds for the restoration of two notable Danish buildings in the Islands so they can be used as a national museum, as well as for future artistic studies.
Projects in Denmark receiving funding include:
– The National Gallery of Denmark and the Royal Danish Library for implementation of a project to activate works related to the colonial history of Denmark and the former Danish West Indies in order to create new stories.
– The National Museum of Denmark plan to compile a new permanent exhibition on colonial history.
– The National Museum for a special exhibition about Peter von Scholten’s furniture from the former Danish West Indies in the Royal Reception Rooms at Christiansborg Palace.
– Stop slavery! an exhibition at the Workers’ Museum in Denmark about Denmark’s history of colonialism and slave trade seen from a contemporary perspective focusing on unfree labor.
– A short film stemming from the opening of the archives of the Danish National Archives about the colonial era in the former Danish West Indies.
– Queen Mary – a memorial sculpture. A project by the artist Jeannette Ehlers, for the West India Warehouse in Copenhagen.
– A traveling exhibition about In Search of Identity and about ten local heroes from the Virgin Islands.