It has taken a bit of time for my experience in Norway to really soak in and for me to fully realize the impact that those seven weeks in the midst of the summer had on me. Now that it has been a few months since we have returned from Norway, I think I have finally gotten to that point of reflections.
One of the most significant things that I have taken away from this summer abroad is knowledge of the Norwegian approach to peace. In my daily encounters with Norwegians—both strangers and those who I knew—I noticed that they are not very open people. It takes a while to get to know a Norwegian and for them to open up to you, but when they do, you have a friend for life. This is something that I saw directly translated to Norway’s approach to peace work. When Norway goes into another country to work for peace, they are not there for a short amount of time and they are not there purely because of self-interest. Norwegian involvement abroad is for the long-term and because they have a genuine interest and care for the well-being of all people, whether they live within the Norwegian borders or not.
This new perspective of the Norwegian approach has translated directly to the hope that I have to continue working in the field of peace and reconciliation work in the future. Though there may be times when things seem hopeless or that there really is no end, I can think of the Norwegians. The Norwegians do not give-up, even in the most difficult circumstances, and this is something that has proved to be very effective and instrumental in the work that they do.