Why I Volunteer: Ulla Svennigsen Lund


Ulla Lund, head of the Aarhus 2017 volunteer programme, ReThinkers tells Galway 2020 why volunteering with Aarhus 2017 was such a rewarding experience.

Now continuing the volunteer programme under the Aarhus tourist organisation,, when not rallying the troops, she can be found happily cycling through the city on her bike.


Tell us about Aarhus 2017? 

Aarhus 2017 was a movement, with everyone being invited to take part in creating change through art and culture. Aarhus was about strengthening the identity of our region, experiencing and participating in high quality cultural events, and changing the rules of the game. The complexity of the challenges we faced called for new approaches: Let’s Rethink was much more than a theme – it was a mindset for change, innovation and courage, a progressive way of thinking and acting smarter. From the very beginning of 2015, we wanted to develop a volunteer programme focusing on those. The name we chose for our Volunteer Programme, ReThinkers, turned out to be a very good name for our volunteers!   

Can you tell us about your experience as volunteer manager of Aarhus 2017?

It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience! We created one of the most ambitious and active volunteer programmes ever seen in Denmark. The volunteer programme has so far engaged thousands of volunteers and will become one of the key legacies of ECoC Aarhus 2017. The volunteers are very positive and are the best ambassadors for Aarhus 2017 that we can get – they’re so committed. I see the volunteers as a unique and great resource – without the volunteers, we couldn’t have done what we did. 


What were the highlights?

The opening ceremony – thousands and thousands of volunteers were engaged; Røde Orm, a large-scale outdoor theatre event by The Royal Theatre, where we had around 150 volunteers every night for almost two months; and the amazing LIFE-BOATS, crafted by legendary Norwegian artist, Marit Benthe Norheim, made their way around the coastal waters of Denmark, helped by volunteers.

Let’s Rethink was much more than a theme – it was a mindset for change, innovation and courage, a progressive way of thinking and acting smarter.”

What did the volunteers bring to the capital of culture?   

Visibility and friendliness to visitors and guests of the city. The large number of volunteers, and the fact that the volunteers were very engaged, enthusiastic and active made things run smoothly.   


What did the volunteers gain from the experience?   

We wanted our volunteers to be inspired to have an active and exciting life through volunteering. It gave them an opportunity to develop new and maintain old professional and social competencies. They got to have positive experiences, a hardy network, and made new acquaintances.


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