My experience in Norway has translated into my life back on campus in many ways, but I want to highlight two: my relationships with my peers, and through my academic goals. One of the things that I have been most grateful for about my time abroad was being reminded of the need to take time out of the business of each day to get to know people; I’ve been reminded to see the value and need to listen to another person’s story and find the common ground. The International Summer School in Oslo was the most diverse learning atmosphere that I have ever had the opportunity to study in, and I am grateful to have been able to learn in that atmosphere as it has allowed me to be more comfortable asking questions of people who have differing beliefs and values than I. This environment inspired me and gave me hope that one day our world will embrace the beauty in its diversity and recognize when we come together with embracing our differences we are able to make changes in our world, we are all able to experience peace and wholeness. My experience in Norway has moved me to find ways to further connect with people on my campus who come from different cultures and hold different values, beliefs, and philosophies and find the resonances so that we can make our campus a better place for all.
My experience this summer has also influenced my academic goals through inspiring me to continue to further pursue my independent research that I started in this past summer in recognizing interfaith dialogue as a way for people to find healing in their lives. This summer I focused on how interfaith dialogue could be integrated into the healthcare system in a practical sense, and now I am focusing how interfaith and healing can be understood through a theological perspective using the process of reconciliation. For my religion research seminar, I have the task of writing my research paper, which I have focused on how reconciliation, specifically using an interfaith model, can lead to healing within individuals, groups, and communities and ultimately lead to peace within our world. As I have delved into this research, I am constantly brought back to my time in Norway as a place where people from all over the world lived together as one, whole community. We represented a place where diversity was embraced and a place that valued and respected each other for our unique identities. Now that I am no longer in such a space, I long for a time when we can all feel such wholeness and unity in our world, regardless of where we live. I am hopeful that the peace and wholeness that I experienced in Norway can become a reality in other places as well, and am working now to emulate that understanding, wholeness, and unity at Concordia College in Moorhead, MN.