As has been the case with several other staff member who have written this I have to ask the question “Where do I start?”
I’ll start with the beginning. Being from Norway, I was never a villager. I had never even heard of Skogfjorden. I guess my story starts with attending my cousin’s wedding in Seattle in 2002. I fell in love with that city and wanted to go back there and stay for an extended period. When I then started college in Norway in 2003, I found out that my school had an exchange program with a university in the Seattle area. Obviously, I signed up for that. I then met American exchange students at my college in Norway, and one of those girls worked at the Swedish village, Sjölunden. She told me about Skogfjorden and I got interested. It sounded like fun, and I was also studying to be a teacher and this sounded like a good teaching experience.
As I sit down to write about how Skogfjorden has impacted my life over the past 24 years, I am instantly overwhelmed with ideas. Where to begin? What’s most important? What do people want to read about?
I ended up at Skogfjorden because I spent a year in the US with YfU (Youth for Understanding). Somebody there knew Kari Fischer – an old timer at Skog- so I applied, and got accepted. This was back in 1986, I had just spent two years in the army (going to officers’ school of all things )! I was the worst student they had had for decades, but I got in. And out! I had saved up money to travel the US for half a year. Starting off in Bemidji seemed like a good idea!
Hei! Jeg heter Rachel “Rikke” Peterson. You know those posters that say “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten / from Star Wars / in Marching Band”? I’m pretty confident that everything I need to know in life I learned at Skogfjorden, Concordia’s Norwegian Language Village.
Å så heldig jeg er, som kan være her med deg. For anyone who has been a part of Skogfjorden, these song lyrics mean something special. They are part of a tradition that happens every morning with the whole camp. Sitting near the water mid-morning, Tove in front of all of us, we sing. We sing together and our voices join as they echo out on to Lake Mjøsa. This time for me solidified that I was part of a strong and invested community. We came from different walks of life, parts of the country and countries, belief systems, and social structures, but we were united.