Peace Scholar Post: When Far Away Becomes Up Close and Personal

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 Eric Herst from Augustana College, Sioux Falls.  

My first week in Oslo has been incredible, exciting, and exhausting. There is never a moment to rest – it is all go, go, go. Whether it’s a visit to Vigeland Park, visiting the Peace Prize Museum, going to a independence day party and eating the Norwegian version of a corndog, attending a welcome ceremony at city hall that was interrupted by a fire alarm, taking a three hour hike, supporting the United States in the World Cup, having a Q and A with the former Foreign Minister of Norway, or staying up way too late to finish the required reading for class, there has simply been no time to relax or be bored. And I would have it no other way.

The other Peace Scholars in my program are what make this trip special. It has been so great to be with students who are very serious about what is going on in the world and want to discuss their thoughts. We all come from diverse academic backgrounds – from Chemistry to English to Education and Political Science, and it is interesting to hear how this has shaped our views. This group of students is so committed to making a difference in this world, and they all have so much drive to make it happen. Really, we are all a bunch of nerds and we love it.  As we like to say about ourselves, a bit tongue in cheek, you don’t get to be a Peace Scholar by being a popular kid in high school. 

There are over 80 countries represented at the International Summer School in Oslo, and this is yet another great part of the whole summer school experience. As an international affairs major, I have greatly appreciated being able to learn first-hand about international issues from people who actually live there. There is one student, in particular, who happens to be another peace scholar. She is from Palestine and talking to her has helped change my views and perceptions on the conflict. It is easy to develop opinions from 1,000 miles away, but it is another thing when you get to interact with people from these far-off places. This has been such a great experience so far, and I know it will continue to be. 

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