Have you ever heard of the Nobel Peace Prize? Well, it comes from Norway every year. Norwegians are proud of their role as a little country helping the world do big things to either achieve or maintain peace. What is behind all that? Learn more about the Nobel Peace Prize here.
At Skogfjorden, we work together daily to create a dynamic village where we all share in the building and maintenance of our community, where everyone is and feels safe and where everyone belongs. We know that in a community of over 100 people, conflicts of different dimensions can still occasionally arise. We therefore practice healthy ways to acknowledge and resolve conflict.
By actively working together, daily, on creating a peaceful environment, we can take home with us valuable life skills to use also beyond Skogfjorden. Come to session NB52 if you want to especially feature peace in your Norwegian language experience some time.
Even though Norway was still classified as a developing nation as recently as 1971, for many years now it has been rated as the best country for people to live in in the world (because they take such good care of their people and environment, and because they participate so actively in helping others). How do they live? See how they got to where they are today with the History of Norway, and why they are rated as the most livable country by the UN Human Development Index.
At Skogfjorden, we take the lessons of a country and bring them to our village in order to create a good place where villagers can feel free to be themselves and grow in ways they like in order to connect with Norway and to find their place in the world.
Norwegians have explored all corners of the globe on foot, on skis and with sled dogs (their specialty is polar regions like the Arctic and Antarctic). What makes Norwegians so good? Visit Reisenett to start finding out.
Skogfjorden villagers learn to ski in the summertime when they simulate their first trip to Norway as tourists. Come see how they do it!
Fridtjof Nansen, Roald Amundsen, Thor Heyerdahl and the perhaps less internationally known, Otto Sverdrup, were among the 20th century’s greatest explorers. Outstanding women explorers also include Wanny Woldstad and today’s Liv Arnesen (together with American Ann Bancroft). Learn about all their exciting expeditions and their great contributions to society.
At Skogfjorden, we sometimes relive their experiences through our own expeditions to the Easter Islands or The South Pole, or to other places you can discover with us.
The Northern Lights were first studied and understood by a Norwegian (Kristian Birkeland, 1867-1917) at the turn of the last century. He invented a method for producing saltpeter (an essential ingredient for fertilizer). This ended up being the main ingredient for what became Norway’s first and long-time largest industry, Norsk Hydro.
Instead of getting rich on his discoveries and patents, Birkeland reinvested all of his earnings into research labs and stations that let him explore the mysteries of the Northern Lights. He died a poor man, by chance in a far away country, but he gave Norway what it needed to establish itself as an industrial nation AND the world a scientific explanation of Aurora Borealis. Learn more at this website or read Lucy Jago’s great biography The Northern Lights: The True Story of the Man Who Unlocked the Secrets of the Aurora Borealis).
We offer Northern Lights every summer in the evening skies of Skogfjorden (though we can never guarantee when) as well as lots of amazing stories about people like Kristian Birkeland. Come learn about Norway’s many remarkable people and what they have done to make a difference. If you are lucky, we will also show you some of their remarkable discoveries from the sky!
Norway turned 100 years old in 2005 even though it is a nation of people who have made their mark in world history ever since Viking times. Learn more about how it managed to free itself from its union with Sweden peacefully just 100+ years ago. Lessons learned then could be valuable to conflicts around the globe today.
We practice some of Norway’s learned lessons every day at the Village, and we explore others in special programs — sometimes even at the Concordia Language Villages Peace Site that is right next to Skogfjorden.
Vikings were remarkable travelers and craftsmen (and sometimes terrible visitors). They made ships that took them around the globe and, by a quirk of nature, many of their ships and their riches and belongings have been found perfectly preserved in peat bogs in Scandinavia.
To learn more about Vikings and their amazing trading routes and craftsmanship, check out these sites:
Vikings: The North Atlantic Saga (Smithsonian: National Museum of Natural History)
The Vikings (PBS)
There’s even a Viking club you can join in the Midwest where you can making Viking things or reenact Viking events!
A long-time Skogfjorden villager learned and taught other villagers how to make chain mail when she was a villager (something she learned because of her own interest in Vikings). See the coif she made for Skogfjordenin in our butikk!
Did you know that Norway’s national instrument is a violin with 8 or 9 strings – only 4 of which are actually played? The rest resonate with the strings being played and give it a sound unlike any other instrument. They say that in order to play the Hardanger fiddle (Hardingfele) like a pro, you have to enter the world of the supernatural. To learn more about it, hear what it sounds like, or find out how you can learn to play it, check out the Hardanger Fiddle Association or go listen to people play the fiddle live every summer at Nisswa-stämmen, Nordic Fest or other Scandinavian festivals held around the country.
Some long-time friends of Skogfjorden are developing a violin/fiddle program for young players. If you are interested in being involved or know others who can help us with this, let us know. In the mean time, if you have a special love for music, come to NB12 – the session where music gets extra attention!
Did you know that Norway is as long as the US is from northern Minnesota to southern Texas? Its coast is loaded with fjords — so many that if you stretched the coastline all out, it would fit around the equator. To learn more about Norway’s geography, check out Geography of Norway or World Atlas Geography.
At Skogfjorden the villagers and staff have painted a map of the country painted on a surface the size of a volleyball court. You can walk and study the entire country with friends, and even make your own contributions to its development as a service project!
Did you know that the beautiful country of Norway has a network of cabins that people can hike to and use freely all across the country? For an overnight in one of these cabins, you get a clean place to be, a bed, wood for a fire, a place to cook your meal and sometimes the good company of other mountain wanderers.
All that is asked of you in return is ca. 60-300 NOK (approximately $10-$50) and the courtesy of leaving the cabin as nice as it was when you came. To learn more about these cabins and all the wonderful places to hike, check out the Norske Turistforening website (Norwegian Trekking Association). You can read it in engelsk if your norsk isn’t yet up to speed.
At Skogfjorden, natur og friluftsliv (nature and outdoor living) is the heart and soul of our activity center Jotunheimen, named after the land of the giants… and Norway’s largest national park! Through activities at Jotunheimen, villagers are introduced to nature as Norwegians know it – a wonderful place to explore and to be.
Did you know that Norway has long been a multicultural nation? People from all over the world live in Norway today, but with Norway’s long coast and borders with Sweden, Finland and Russia, people from far and wide have made there way to the country. Through the Hanseatic League, particularly southern and western Norway were connected in important ways with continental Europe.
Also, Norway’s native Sami people and later Kven immigrants and Russian Pomor traders have shaped northern Norway in important ways. Easter is an especially active time for the Sami and every year a small Sami community hosts a huge festival, Riddu Riđđu Festivàla, for indigenous peoples from all over the world. You can learn more about the Sami Easter Festival here.
At Skogfjorden, we care about Norway’s landsmenn of both longer and shorter tenures. The many cultures that have been a part of Norway’s past and recent history have influenced, among other things, the kind of food, music and dialects that make Norway what it is today.
At Sameland, the Sami influence is given special attention. Likewise, the kitchen enjoys serving meals that are influenced by Norway’s traditional farming and fishing roots (with tasty treats like brunost, får i kål and kokt torsk) as well as by dishes brought to Norway by immigrants from places like Russia, China and Pakistan (ask any young Norwegian about kebaband they will be able to point you to the best kitchens for that!).
Skogfjorden invites people from around the world to come as both villagers and staff. If you come at a time that overlaps NB30 or NB33, you will be able to enjoy our dual immersion sessions where both Norwegian and English are being learned by native speakers of English and Norwegian. Lots of fun exchanges naturally happen then just like they do when people of different backgrounds meet in Norway!