Can you tell us about your overall experience at TEDxOdenseWomen last year?
I have one word to describe it: It was flawless. Everything went perfect. From the moment I arrived to the moment I left the following morning. I had a coach from the TEDx-team, Ofelia Edery, who showed me around, and introduced me to everybody. I was really nervous and anxious, but seeing her so smiley and confident, answering any questions I had, made me feel a lot better.
I was the first speaker to go up there, which was to my advantage, because I think I would have been too nervous to sit and wait to go on through the whole event (laughs). I was really nervous until I got on the red dot. I looked around and all these people were beaming, smiling at me. And then I did my whole talk without forgetting any of my lines. For me, being up there was the toughest challenge I ever put myself through. But I did it, and when I came down from the stage, I got hugs, I got congratulations, people wanted to talk to me at the dinner, I got offers of help for the program I had just talked about—I even had a couple of students who told me all we needed was better marketing, and they actually offered to do it for free!
I didn’t stay long and celebrate the whole night, because I was exhausted, but the moment I went to my hotel room, I was thrilled. I slept like a baby, and the next day I took my train, happy as you can ever be.
I really enjoyed the whole experience. I never imagined it was like that. My husband had been to TED-conferences for many years, but I never participated as much as him, because I never thought it would be something for me, but wow, I was wrong!
Beatriz at the TEDxOdenseWomen 2019 event
So, what do you remember best about the event and the day of the event?
What I remember best is meeting the other speakers and the TEDx team and being so impressed by them. First, they were all super professional and eager. There were no problems they could not solve for us.
The TEDxOdenseWomen organizers are so diverse in terms of age, background, interests, and they managed to put together an event where everyone feels included and welcomed. I think that’s magic, and I think a lot of credit goes to them!
What do you hope that the audience learned from your talk and took home with them?
That women from visible minorities are not a problem for Denmark. That they also possess resources and skills, and that integration into the Danish society is a process that everybody can contribute to, everybody can be a part of. Integration is not only for immigrants. I think I got my message across, because in 2019, KVINFO got funding to start again in Vollsmose, and new, motivated mentors joined in after the first TEDxOdenseWomen event.
How nice! So you think that had an impact?
Yes, those who reached out to me during the break and said that they wanted to support the Mentor Network did it. And everytime I’ve reached out to people who gave me their contact information, asking if they would be willing to meet one of the mentees, they have always said yes. And I can also tell you that three of our mentees were there at TEDxOdenseWomen 2019.
Can you tell us a little bit about what’s happened in your life since we saw you at TEDxOdenseWomen 2018
Firstly, we applied to start up in Vollsmose again, a little pilot project in 2019. I went on stage in December 2018, and the first week of January 2019 we received funding from Odense Municipality! One day I was talking about The Mentor Network being in trouble because of lack of funding, and 3 weeks later the program gets local funding. And in December 2019 KVINFOs Mentor Network was included in the national budget.
And how was your experience being in the audience at TEDxOdenseWomen 2019?
Wonderful! There was no anxiety, pure enjoyment. I could just pay attention to everything that was happening, I was networking all night.
For me, TEDxOdenseWomen has been the ideal place to connect with people I would never see otherwise. People who have nothing to do with migration, integration, or mentoring. So having the possibility to build such bridges is fantastic.
I was also thrilled to listen to the speakers, especially Anna-Sophie Hartvigsen from Female Invest, because I have been in her community of investors almost from the beginning. It was fantastic to hear her talk about how the investment world could be both more fun and much larger if women would start investing. It only took me a few weeks to start investing and I havent lost any money yet! (laughs)
What’s up next for you and your projects?
KVINFOs Mentor Network will continue opening up opportunities for immigrant women to participate on equal footing with other citizens in the labor market and in society. We are reshaping our processes to be even better at supporting immigrant women who live in social housing areas across Denmark. As for me, I will have the honor to present the Mentor Network as a best practice at the European Mentoring Summit 2020 in Barcelona in March. By the way, the Summit is showing my TEDxOdenseWomen talk on their website!
Watch Beatriz’s TEDxOdenseWomen 2018 talk here