Carola Alvarado

When I was younger, I would at all times have defended my Danishness, but now that the gap between foreigners and non-foreigners in Denmark has widened, I feel more foreign. I have become proud of my roots, but when I visit Chile, I do feel I am Danish.

I like the quirky and party and colours. When I get too systematic, my children tell me I have become too Danish. Things don't have to be so conventional and streamlined to be acceptable. I am very happy to have a "puddle button." I use it lot.

My husband is from Sierra Leone and we have four children. Our cultures are closer to each other than to the Danish. We understand each other and dare to be a woman and a man. It creates a fine dynamic. My father lives far away and my mother died five years ago. She looked after our children, kept the Spanish alive, played and sung and was the Chilean anchor in my life. Now I have to be the anchor myself.

Two years ago, I took over the venue “Vestergade 58”, where I had sown my oats when I was young. I have always dreamt of creating a social center for Latin American and African food, music and dance. I often work 60-70 hours a week, but I am proud of having created a place where there is room for different ways of being human. It must be my positive contribution to the foreigner debate.

I dream of a more open-minded and tolerant Denmark, where one values the strengths of diversity. I let a neo-folk-punk band play in the basement bar. No one wanted them, and I remember how difficult it was to start my own salsa parties. It was a nice evening that we would not have experienced had I rejected something which was a bit different.

Carola Alvarez / 47 / woman / in a relationship / children / Aarhus / runs “Vestergade 58” / from Chile / came to Denmark in 1974 / residence permit 1975