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My Story - Dina

Published: September 10, 2017

By Jessica Dina Korynta

Ola, Niko, and I on NRK

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 could start with the language learning.  I could mention how attending Skogfjorden, starting at the age of 7, gave me a passion for learning languages that led to studying more than 10, receiving my undergraduate degree in Linguistics, and motivated me to start the pursuit of a Master’s in Linguistics as well. 

I could mention the cultural knowledge I have gained about a nation and people that I previously had no connection with.  My ancestors weren’t Norwegian (although we now know, 22 years into my Norwegian journey, that we have a little Scandinavian blood in us thanks to the Vikings in Scotland), I didn’t come to Skogfjorden to speak with my grandparents or to be able to go visit distant cousins across the sea.  Learning Norwegian at Skogfjorden has opened my eyes to the struggles of people around the world, allowing me to understand that my experience is not the same as theirs and I should not take anything for granted.  I could mention that…

Part of my Skogfjorden family

I might point out that Skogfjorden has become my family, figuratively and literally.  I now know that I have people in almost every state and several countries around the globe that I could call on if I needed something (a couch to crash on, a shoulder to cry on, a pal to reminisce with) and that those are connections that will never break regardless of the years that pass.  But my actual family is at Skogfjorden too.  Of course, I have my 5 nieces who I see grow into themselves each and every summer as villagers and now as staff members.  Not to mention my best-friend and husband who I never would have met if not for returning year after year.  And on top of all of that, we now have our wonderful little dude who is forging his own family at Skogfjorden every summer, and we are so thankful that he gets that opportunity.  The connections he makes there and the positive impact of being bilingual we see in his young life is the epitome of priceless.

But is that what people want to spend their lovely Sunday reading about?

I think I will be a bit more concrete and to the point.  How does Skogfjorden help me every day?  What did I get from Skogfjorden that helped me in school, that helps me now at work?

I have gained and refined numerous skills that make an impact in my daily life from my time at Skogfjorden.  Things such as:

  • Teamwork and team building,
  • Listening skills,
  • Delegation,
  • Collaborative skills,
  • Conflict management, and
  • Communication… to name a few.

However, there are a few work skills that I am regularly recognized for by my peers and supervisors that I believe were honed at Skogfjorden.  (Just so you know, self-promotion is not one of these skills so that is constantly a struggle and continues to be here.)  I believe my ability to multi-task, solve problems creatively, and accept change are all directly tied to my time at Skogfjorden, especially to my past 16 years on staff.  (Also, my love of Excel, but that is beside the point ��!)

Pretty convincing, if you ask me!

On a daily basis, staff members are faced with challenges that just don’t happen elsewhere.  From being responsible for leading 10+ activities in a day (multi-tasking), to figuring out how to make teaching children about the depressing works of Henrik Ibsen or how to make a convincing gossiping squirrel costume (creative problem-solving), to planning to participate in a program dressed as a parrot and being told 5 minutes before hand that you are actually going to be a waitress or having a 30 minute activity turn into a 2 hour activity (accepting change), there are challenges at Skogfjorden that give you the chance to practice important life skills in unique ways 100’s of times every single day.  But what makes it truly unique, is that you face these daily challenges all while having fun!  And on top of that, you face these fun daily challenges while surrounded by one of the strongest support networks you will ever encounter.  These fun challenges with your team turn into lasting memories and give you the confidence to know that you can face them and anything else head on.

Which leads me to the other skill that I believe we all gain by working at Skogfjorden, a skill that I believe is incredibly valuable and exceptionally rare.  The ability to go-with-the-flow!  To not get stressed over small things.  To know that things will work out even if they don’t work out quite as planned.  To see challenges as learning opportunities to be embraced instead of avoided. 

So as I head out in my day, ready to face the challenges ahead with humor and excitement, with my (literal) Skogfjorden family in the car with me, I thank Skogfjorden for making me the person I am today and for positively impacting the lives of hundreds of young people each and every summer.  It’s exciting to think about how they will bring Skogfjorden out into the world with them.  Can’t wait to see!