Saturday, September 27, 2008

Changing seasons

I've been home in Gjøvik for a few days now to pack and get ready to start the journey. As I arrived home, I was awestruck by the beautiful fall colors, bright and burning, draping the forests. At first, it made me think back to the majestic trees at St. Olaf in the fall and for a second I wanted nothing more than to go back there to the safety and comfort of my home on the hill. But then I was reminded by one of my favorite Donald Miller quotes:

"Everybody, every person has to leave, has to change like seasons, have to or they die. The seasons remind me that I must keep changing, and I want to change because it is God's way. I want to keep my sould fertile for the changes, so things keep getting born in me, so things keep dying when it's time for things to die. I want to keep walking away from the person I was a moment ago, because a mind was made to figure things out, not to read the same pages recurrently."

In a few hours I leave to go to Oslo, and before the sun rises tomorrow, I will be on my way to Peru. I have no idea what to expect -- all I know is that I'm leaving the comfortable and allowing myself to be changed by new surroundings and new challenges. Here we go...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Bono and Bush and a tsunami every month

If you click on the picture below, it will take you to a video of musician/artist Bono's visit to the White House a few months back, addressing the global food crisis and representing the ONE campaign to reach the UN Millennium Development Goals. Believe what you will about Bono, but I think he has some pretty thought provoking things to say on the state of our world. About two minutes into the video, Bono talks about the difference between charity and justice. Please spare 3 minutes of your day to hear what he has to say.

If this stirred your curiosity, you can see the whole speech by clicking here.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

One school + three organizations + one govt. branch = one fantatic (yet confusing) year

You're going to Peru? But you're also going to school? And you're also doing the peace corps? AND you're representing Stromme Foundation? These are questions I've gotten a lot. And the answer to all of them is YES. Here are a few words of clarification..

Hald Internasjonale Senter
is the name of the school I'm going to. Through this school, three organizations organize exchanges with their respective partner organizations in different countries. Young Norwegians are sent out to work with the partner organizations, and the partner organizations send young adults to Norway to work here. For six weeks at the beginning and the end of the 6-7 month exchange, we are all gathered at Hald Internasjonale Senter. The three organizations working through Hald are the Norwegian Mission Society (or NMS), International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (or Norges Kristelige Skole og Laget), and Stromme Foundation (or Strømmestiftelsen). I will be representing the Stromme Foundation while I work with their partner organization, La Restinga, in Iquitos, Peru.

All of the programs are sponsored by the Norwegian equivalent of the peacecorps, FK (short for Fredskorpset), which receives it funding from the government. FK provides financial support and guidelines for Hald Internasjonale Senter and many other exchange programs like it. In 2000, FK changed their approach from just sending Norwegians abroad to requiring that all their programs included an exchange. Far too often, international service programs implicity or explicity sends the message that the Westerners have all the answers and the competancy, which pacifies and disempowers the recipients of their help. FK's vision is that developed countries (including Norway) need the perspective and help of people from developing countries just as much as the other way around.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Snapshots from Hald so far

As part of the year at Hald, there is a 6 weeks course both before and after our stay abroad. This takes place in the small city of Mandal in southern Norway. Here, all 70 students (30 internationals and 40 Norwegians) are gathered to prepare and learn from each other before heading off to our respective work sites all over the world. You can see where my fellow Norwegian students' are going by clicking on the links to their blogs on the right. The internationals are from the organizations that we're going to, and getting to know them has been a great way for us to learn more about their respective languages and cultures. When the Norwegians leave October 1st, the internationals will go to their placement sites all around Norway to work in kindergardens, churches, youthgroups, etc.

We have been at Hald for about 4 weeks now, and it has been a fantastic experience so far. We've had classes from 9am to 4pm pretty much every day, learning about everything from microfinance, to leadership, to gender and climate change perspectives on development, to cross cultural communication, and personal growth, just to name a few. Outside of class, we've had lots of fun adventures including:
- trips to the beautiful nearby beaches, where many of our African students corageously learned to swim in freezing Norwegian sea water.
- fun danceparties, where our Brazilian friends have introduced us stiff Norwegians to a whole new world of ways to use our hips!
- a weekend trip to the mountains, including some trusting activities, like being blindfolded while walking through muddy paths, rocky hills, and crossing small rivers -- which was not made any easier by the language barrier!

Included below are some pictures my fellow student Helge Lauvsnes (who is going to Tanzania) has taken so far. Enjoy!


For those of you wondering how I learned to make such sweet blog headings, I'm sorry to dissapoint you that no crash course in photoshop could teach me how to do that. This is completely and entirely the work of the multitalented Tyler Hauger (aka my fantastic boyfriend).

PS: Tyler is in Jerusalem working for the Lutheran World Federation this year and you can follow his blog at

Sunday, September 7, 2008


Let me start by saying hello and THANK YOU for all of you interested in following my blog! I'm really excited to share my experiences and thoughts with you! I hope to write freely and honestly about everything that this experience entails: making friends, getting to know a new culture and language, learning about development and poverty, learning about myself, practicing what it means to "love your neighbor as yourself"--and probably failing over and over again!

A word on language:
Since there are both Americans, Norwegians, and people from other countries reading this blog, I thought it would be easiest to write in English. Not only because this is the language that most people understand, but also because after six years in Minnesota, I speak better English than Norwegian! So I apologize to all of you for whom reading English might be more of a challenge -- I will do my best not to use too many difficult words. Also, if it's any consolation, I will be severely language confused this year, trying to juggle Norwegian, English, and Spanish, so I'm guessing there will be a little bit of all three languages on my blog! :)

Thank you again for being interested - I'm looking forward to keeping in touch with you through letting you know what I'm doing and feeling. My hope is that my reflections will inspire you, provoke you, make you laugh, make you think, and make you appreciate the small things that gives life meaning!