This is part of a series of blog posts written by the 2014 Peace Scholars as they experience their summer program in Norway. This post was written by Madeline Hyde from Concordia College.
“No realist politics in a civilised society is imaginable unless it is based on love of one’s neighbour, mutuality, helpfulness and trust. This is the rock upon which all human cooperation must be built.” – Fridtjof Nansen
It is in this spirit of Fridtjof Nansen that the Peace Scholars and 16 students from ex-Yugoslavia began their week at the Nansen Center for Peace and Dialogue in Lillehammer, Norway. During our stay, we formed friendships and learned from one another through lectures, exercises in dialogue, World Cup games, barbecues, and more. When we got to the Nansen Center, we were greeted by a man named Steinar Bryn who is the founder and director of the Nansen Dialogue Network and has opened dialogue centers throughout ex-Yugoslavia. These centers facilitate dialogue between ethnic groups that have traditionally been in conflict with one another. They also open up space for these groups to discuss the conflict and often help participants create friendships that transcend these differences – similarly to how some of my own friendships with others at the Nansen Center developed during my time there. These friendships are just as important as what we are learning in class at the International Summer School in Oslo. Everyday, I learn something about another way of life and culture through my new friends.