The International Cultural Network (INK) is an organization running in Stavanger whose main goal is to encourage social cohesion and integration while assisting newcomers. INK was founded in 1982 and now has almost 80 organizations in its network.
INK has kept the focus on two objectives:
- First objective is to make Stavanger more attractive for businesses in a country where the culture is not very open to newly-arrived.
- Second goal is to help people with different backgrounds in the integration process.
The idea hidden behind the IKN’s philosophy is to use cultural diversity as a way to bridge people from different countries into Norway. Stavanger, in this perspective, represents the international “capital of Norway”, a city that welcomes refugees and migrants from all over the world.
The network organises about 700 events a year; some events run annually, whereas other activities are scheduled on a weekly/monthly basis. Some events are:
- The weekly International Cultural Café has been going on for 30 years now, and is extremely popular, gathering together people with different minority backgrounds as well as locals. During the event several activities are carried out and often the public library plays a fundamental role in promoting international books translated in several languages.
- The language café takes place in the public library, running twice a week and each session lasts two hours. This activity attracts many foreigners and newcomers who wish to learn Norwegian. Teachers are usually volunteers, for example retired teachers willing to teach Norwegian language. In order to take part in the language class, it is not necessary to sign up, all participants have to do is to show up. Nowadays, the café hosts between 100 and 110 people every time. The biggest ethnic groups that usually join the café are Polish, followed by Spaniards and Lithuanians.
- The Children’s World Day is an annual appointment that gathers together children from 3 to 11 years old and their families. Usually it happens in March and it is always very crowded. During this day several activities take place, it is possible to hear music from exotic countries, taste any kind of food, make handcrafts, women can get henna painted, kids can get face paint while singing songs etc... This event gathers together people from all over the world and encourages minorities to keep their traditions and habits alive.
- Every year a Seminar about youth invites experts talk about the risks young people run when they fall outside of society. Last year, for instance, the topics discussed were linked to what happened in Paris and Oslo: radicalism, new-Nazi groups and the extreme right wing.
- During the elections, the IKN distributed information for newcomers on how to register to vote.
- Upcoming events: the carnival will take place in February and the Venezuelan community will play music and children will play the piñata. In summer the kite festival and kite workshop are a highlight of the Stavanger’s events season.