Engaging in dialogue

Inger Tallaksen, General Manager of the Norwegian American Chamber of Commerce, is the recipient of the 2009 Ambassador's Award, given by Johan C. Vibe, Deputy Chief of Mission at the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Washington, D.C. Photo: Christy Olsen Field

Leaders of the Norwegian-American community come together for the annual U.S.-Norway Forum in Seattle Nov. 12

By Christy Olsen Field

Norwegian American Weekly

On Nov. 12, leaders from the Norwegian-American community convened in Seattle, Wash. for the annual U.S.-Norway Forum. Founded in 1997, the U.S.-Norway Forum brings together the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norwegian-American organizations, and educational institutions to engage in a dialogue to strengthen and promote ties between Norway and the United States.

This day-long meeting is chaired by the Royal Norwegian Embassy, and features presentations from a wide variety of leaders in the Norwegian-American community, and provides a place for engaging in dialogue about Norway, and sharing this message with the American public.

The 2009 U.S.-Norway Forum included presentations on the status of a number of different Norwegian-American initiatives, as well as time for discussion.

Johan C. Vibe, recently appointed as Deputy Chief of Mission at the Royal Norwegian Embassy, served as the emcee for the event. Vibe discussed the new ways for promoting Norway’s interests in the world, including the changes in the government after the September elections and Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ top priorities.

Solveig Torvik, a former editor of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and current author, delivered a speech on how Norway looks to an American journalist, offering a critical eye of Norwegian-American who lives in both countries.

Shifting to a new topic, Van Hipp of American Defense International discussed transatlantic cooperation between Norway and the United States, and the key elements of a successful Norwegian business in the United States. Eric Nelson, Executive Director and CEO of the Nordic Heritage Museum, gave a presentation on the future home of the Nordic Museum.

The afternoon portion of the Forum focused on education. President Loren Anderson of Pacific Lutheran University discussed the changes in demographics and new challenges facing educational institutions. He gave particular focus the decreasing number of Norwegian students coming to the United States, and the low number of American students studying in Norway.

With the efforts of the Nordic American Learning Alliance (NALA), the number of Norwegian students coming to the United States is increasing, as discussed by Dr. Per Anderson of Concordia College (Moorhead, Minn.) and Karl Stumo of Pacific Lutheran University (Tacoma, Wash.). Ellen Sue Ewald, Education and Research Officer at the Royal Norwegian Consulate General in Minneapolis, Minn., discussed her work in promoting educational exchanges between Norway and the United States. Torild Homstad discussed the success of the Oslo International Summer School.

Eivind Heiberg, recently appointed CEO of Sons of Norway International, and Sølvi Lindseth Barber of the Norse Federation presented the trends and future of the Norwegian-American organizations.

Every year at the U.S.-Norway Forum, the Ambassador of Norway presents the Ambassador’s Award upon an individual who has distinguished him or herself in contributing to promote Norwegian culture or knowledge about the modern Norway. The 2009 recipient is Inger Tallaksen, General Manager for the Norwegian American Chamber of Commerce. Tallaksen is highly respected in the Norwegian-American business community, and has served as General Manager since 1980. Tallaksen was lauded for her sustained efforts and contributions to the Norwegian-American community.

The U.S.-Norway Forum concluded with a reception at the Nordic Heritage Museum, with a showing of “Max Manus,” Norway’s award-winning film about the Norwegian resistance movement during World War II.

With informative presentations and engaging conversations, the 2009 U.S.-Norway Forum provided the space for dialogue among Norwegian-American leaders to strengthen and promote ties between the United States and Norway.

This article was originally published in the Nov. 20 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe and for more information, call us toll-free at (800) 305-0217 or email subscribe@norway.com.

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