Refugee Integration

Bridging the Cultural Divide

Countries across Europe are still grappling with the migration crisis of 2015. Although most countries have been able to provide shelter, healthcare, money for basic necessities, and even language classes and job training for newcomers, issues of unemployment and isolation persist, creating division between migrants and the public at large.

What is missing?

Cultural context.

Although migrants have been awarded access to all the things Europeans would need to succeed, migrants are coming from completely different cultures with contrasting norms, values, systems, and ways of thinking.

In order to empower new citizens and allow them to take charge of their own integration, they need to be given cultural context. With knowledge of cultural expectations, values, and ways of navigating society, new citizens have the insight they need to thrive.

Can culture be taught?

Yes and no.

Culture can be explained to help minimize confusion, frustration, and misunderstandings, which can speed up the integration process, but cultural understanding needs to be practiced in society and ultimately takes time to achieve.



Aperian Global offers several integration programs that help migrants, local citizens, municipalities, organizations, employers and support workers gain insight and understanding into the opposite culture, discover the true root of issues, and develop strategies and tools for better problem-solving.

Please note all of our integration programs are flexible and customizable. Programs are designed to be delivered in Danish, Arab, and English, but accomodation of other languages is possible. The following programs are examples of the core programs we offer.

Programs for new migrants typically include:

  • 1 full-day workshop
  • 2 sessions of 1-on-1 coaching with a cross-cultural specialist
  • GlobeSmart®
  • Learning book with action items linked to the GlobeSmart® profile

This program works with new citizens to help them understand their cultural foundation in contrast to the new culture they are living in. Participants receive the tools to understand the “why” behind behaviors that are new to them, and learn a new way to approach and talk about culture and cultural differences. Participants learn strategies for effective engagement in the work environment and leave with a personal action plan and learning book.

The goal of this program is to empower new citizens with the knowledge, understanding, tools and resources they need to take charge of their integration, primarily with work placements.

Programs for professional staff that interact with migrants on a recurrent basis typically include:

This program focuses on increasing cultural self-awareness, identifying blind spots, and understanding and practicing inclusive behaviors. Participants will learn new language for how to talk about culture and cultural differences, to help bridge the gaps and leverage potential similarities.  

The goal of this program is to empower staff to work more efficiently and effectively across cultures and improve collaboration efforts with colleagues, companies and new citizens. Participants will leave with individual strategies and action plans.

Programs for receiving companies and employers are typically made up of:

  • 2-hour seminar
  • GlobeSmart®
  • Customized learning sheets with action items

This program focuses on increasing cultural self-awareness and how we might be perceived by people coming from the outside. It provides an introduction to intercultural communication and looks at how cultural differences can cause misunderstandings. Participants will learn new language for how to talk about culture and cultural differences, to help bridge the gaps and leverage potential similarities.  

The goal of this program is to equip participants with the tools and language necessary to increase the chances of successfully supporting the integration of new citizens into the job market.



A young male refugee was struggling with life in Denmark; frequently missing classes at language school and skipping job training. As the oldest son in his family, he carries full financial responsibility for his aging parents. With no income, he cannot support them, and so he skips language school and job training to make money any way he can.

After participating in Bridging the Cultural Gap, he began to understand the stark differences between Syrian and Danish culture. He learned how Danish culture is very independent; the opposite of the culture he grew up in. He also learned that Danes tend to be egalitarian; whereas he was born and raised to respect and not question authority.

He realized that the pressure and expectations of his family’s financial interdependence, in combination with his strong orientation towards status and his reliance on others to tell him what to do were keeping him locked in an impossible situation. He understood that if he did not make his own needs and education top priority, he will never be able to grow or support anyone in Danish society.

He tried to explain this to his parents, and asked for permission to be relieved of their financial responsibility. They granted it to him – although reluctantly. He has now taken his first step to achieving his goals in Denmark.

After a long and traumatic journey, a female Syrian refugee was left skeptical and negative. She continually had misunderstandings with social workers in the municipality, despite the help of an interpreter.

During her participation in Bridging the Cultural Gap, this women saw her cultural profile as very different from the typical Danish profile. She began to see how her behavior is coming across to Danes, and why she is constantly misunderstood.

Shortly after the workshop, this women began job training in a kindergarten. She was able to see and feel how Danish culture plays out in real life, identifying cultural dimensions she learned about in the workshop. She started to understand she can gain a lot from modifying her behavior. She observed the working Danish women as self-confident and independent, and she started taking on the traits of her Danish colleagues. As her confidence builds, she continues to aspire to be a working mother and a positive role model for her children.

A Syrian refugee with two small children was having problems with her neighbours. When her children came home from school they would ring the wrong doorbell by mistake. The elderly neighbour told the children quite directly that they should not ring his bell.

Upon hearing this, the mother felt the neighbour was being unkind and intolerant to her children.

After she learned more about the Danes tendency to be very direct, she started perceiving her neighbour’s actions a bit differently. As she lowered her defensive guard, the two neighbours developed a friendly relationship based on mutual curiosity.

Need Integration Help?

We specialize in designing and delivering customized integration programs
for municipalities, organizations, employers, new citizens and support workers.