Student Spotlight: Feminist Champion, Mathhilde F. Sandahl Kjeldbjerg
Currently finishing her International Relations and Diplomacy degree, Mathilde has not only been involved in the New Student Mentor program, the AAU Student Council, and established Q-Club on campus… she’s taken her interests even further by founding and running intersectional feminist non-profit organization, Pangea!
Having led a portion of the Women’s March on March 8th, 2023, Pangea founder and AAU student, Mathilde F. Sandahl is already something of a queer and feminist icon in and out with the AAU community! Learn more about Mathilde and Pangea in this interview.
Why did you choose AAU?
I knew I wanted to study abroad, so it was only a matter of choosing where. I had been to Prague before, so I knew the city is beautiful and student-friendly. When researching English-speaking programs in Prague, AAU showed up. I was immediately attracted to the international community, the central location, and the elegant buildings… and the peacocks, of course.
What are you studying and why did you pick this specific program?
I first applied to the Humanities and Social Sciences program, but the Danish government did not recognize the program as eligible for student funding, so I switched to International Relations and Diplomacy instead. Since I have always liked politics and social sciences, it turned out to be a good fit!
What teachers inspire you at AAU and why?
I believe I have learned the most from Professor Robert Warren. I took his Post-colonial International Relations course and immediately fell in love with it. I decided to do my thesis on queer necropolitics because of his class, and I hope to work in the field of postcolonial education and activism in the future. The subject completely challenged my worldview.
Tell us something unique about yourself- a hobby, an accomplishment you’re proud of, or a lesson learned.
- Lesson learned: Do not buy alcohol in the souvenir shops around Prague 1… you can pay a month’s rent for one beverage.
- Hobby: Reading reverse haram books – spicy, fun, and dangerously addictive, check it out! Oh, and eating hot chocolate (yes, eating, not drinking – know your chocolate)
- Accomplishment: Starting Pangea.
What was the biggest turning point in your life so far?
Meeting my mentor Parul when I was in India for my internship this summer. She completely changed my life. First, by yelling at me for being unambitious, and later for supporting me in my wild dreams. I still meet with her every week online. She showed me how to change my paradigms, and thus how to change my life.
Mathilde F. Sandahl Kjeldbjerg, 2023
Initiative and enthusiasm can get you far.
What is Pangea?
Pangea is an intersectional feminist non-profit organization focused on education and advocacy.
In Pangea, we host educational sessions, workshops, and other events focused on raising awareness about feminist, queer, and social issues. Our aim is to deconstruct personal and societal paradigms that uphold patriarchal, Eurocentric, and heteronormative institutions.
We have different programs including bi-monthly education sessions, sex ed. workshops, the Sappho Salon, the Pangea Press, and the social and development events teams.
What made you initiate Pangea?
I started Pangea with my friend Sophia because we saw limitations within AAU’s curriculum. Most of the subjects are deeply Eurocentric and heteronormative so we wanted to delve more into queer theory, postcoloniality, and socio-political issues in and outside of education. Many of our friends shared our sentiment so we quickly gathered a large group of people interested in learning more.
Initially, Pangea was only intended as a monthly educational event in my kitchen where students and young feminists could educate themselves, and each other, on topics such as ecofeminism, the issues of white feminism, queer politics, and gender discrimination.
Over the last year, we have moved our activities to the Prague LGBT+ Center and grown with more than 100 members and several different teams: our PR team led by AAU students Graceline, Anna, and Ileana; the administration team led by AAU students Lou and Izabela; the Press team led by students Paulina and Sara; and the development team led by student, Carlie. We have also hosted more than 20 events and recently co-organized the demonstration for International Women’s Rights Day in Prague.
Why should people join Pangea?
Because it’s damn fun! And because it’s damn important! Most of us Europeans/Americans have no idea how lucky and privileged we are. We know close to nothing about the postcolonial world and are stuck with deep-rooted Eurocentric and heteronormative ideologies. It’s time we start to practice some self-critical deconstruction and look beyond our own noses. Besides, Pangea is a good place to meet fellow feminists, activists, and friends. It’s a very safe and inclusive community.
What are your plans for the future of Pangea?
We have big, big plans! I will not disclose them here or you may think we’re crazy! We are currently in the process of registering Pangea as an NGO, and building a website. I hope we will have at least 50 people actively involved in building Pangea and Pangea’s programs by next year.
If you had the opportunity to give a TED Talk, what would you speak about?
Queer necropolitics. I am currently writing my thesis on it so it’s literally everything I think about these days- I could talk about homonormativity, colonialism, and sexuality for hours! I highly recommend reading Achille Mbembe or Jasbir K. Puar. I promise – it will challenge your paradigms.