Always Accept the Invitation to a Norwegian’s Home
As I was preparing for my summer in Norway, many friends, family, and people from school gave me advice on things I must do while I’m in Norway. One piece of advice that stuck with me was, “Always accept an invitation to a Norwegian’s home; it may be the best experience you have in Norway.” Initially, I didn’t think much of this advice because I didn’t expect an opportunity to spend time with a Norwegian family. However, an opportunity did arise and I went with a fellow peace scholar, Esme, to her distant relative’s home.
I wasn’t quite sure what the family would be like, but anticipated a quiet and reserved family. My image of a Norwegian family came from my observations from people watching on the streets and coffee shops and noticing how quiet and calm everyone, even children, are. However, this was not the case of the Fossum family. This family is energetic, warm, and extremely hospitable. They welcomed us into their home and treated us as if they had known us for years. That evening we ate waffles, learned the colors of the rainbow in Norwegian from their little girl Idinn, and shared stories about our families. I left the Fossum’s home feeling like I just had a small taste of an authentic Norwegian family, and was left longing for more.
We were able to spend time with Ingvild, Esme’s distant cousin, the very next week when she gave us a tour around Oslo, and again this past weekend when she invited us to her family’s seaside cabin. Within hours upon our arrival at the cabin, I again felt a part of the family when we were picking wild blueberries with the children to make a homemade pie.
That evening we sat next to the brightly burning campfire while Ingvild, told Esme and I stories about her life until there were only glowing coals left. I was instantly drawn into the stories that Ingvild shared about her deep commitment to peacemaking throughout her life. She told us stories about her adventures abroad in her twenties, and the work that she did at the Peace Research Institute in Oslo (PRIO). Since her time at PRIO, she has taught at the University of Oslo and now works in the field of psychology. Although Ingvild’s current job isn’t dedicated peacemaking, her values and lifestyle as an individual still fully embrace those of a peacemaker.
As Ingvild started to talk about experiences in her recent year, she shared a story with us about a sixteen year-old girl she helped that was in an asylum. Ingvild had received a call from someone at the asylum center who thought Ingvild would advocate for a girl who was alone, deaf, and from Africa. Without hesitation Ingvild met this girl and instantly felt the need to be a part of her life. From that moment forward, Ingvild did everything in her power to advocate for this girl to insure that she was taken care of and safe. As Ingvild told this story, it became clear that this child has not only survived but has been given a secure and stable life in Norway because of the work she has done for her. Ingvild ended by talking about how the work that she has done for this girl has allowed her to continue working for peace on a micro level.
After hearing stories from Ingvild’s life, especially the last story, I started to think how different our world would be if more people approach daily life like Ingvild does. What if we all saw ourselves as peacemakers, at least on a micro level?
Looking back on all of the advice I received before coming on to Norway, I can now easily say that accepting the invitation to meet a Norwegian family has been the best advice I’ve received. Through these experiences, I have had the opportunity to eat delicious meals, see parts of Oslo that only the locals know, and have been inspired by an everyday peacemaker.