10 summers of learning and fun!
Norgesskolen celebrates Norwegian language and culture for kids from all over the world
By Anne C Wangberg
Since the beginning in 2003, 620 children between the ages of 9 and 18 have attended Norgesskolen. This year, Nordmanns-Forbundet / Norwegians Worldwide’s school celebrates 10 years!
Lisbeth Bø Håverstad has been the director of the school since day one. She is personally proud of the increasing number of students, especially the number returning year after year. She gives us insight for the three-week stay at Norgesskolen gives the students in experience and knowledge.
Anne C. Wanberg: What is the emphasis at the school?
Lisbeth Bø Håverstad: To communicate knowledge about Norway, both regarding language and culture. As far as we know, there is no program quite like it offered to Norwegians living abroad.
ACW: What is the biggest difference between the school today and when you started 10 years ago?
LBH: The biggest difference is probably much more efficient time management. The combination of time spent in the classroom and in after-school activities creates a fun and educational experience, which the students say they like. Good organization is the key to the school’s leaders being in control, so that the students feel safe at all times, in addition to having fun. Since many of the students return year after year, we have a different theme each time, which provides variation in the teaching and their experience at the school. But some activities we repeat every year, like celebrating the 17th of May, the traditional Norwegian Christmas celebration and the camping trip! These are popular activities, which according to the students, would be a “disaster” if we did away with them. This is because many students do not celebrate the 17th of May where they live, and the Norwegian Christmas celebration is quite different than what they are used to. At Norgesskolen, this celebration is “authentic,” even though it is in the middle of July.
The biggest challenge of developing Norgesskolen has been two things:
Getting the information about the school so that all children / youth with a connection to Norway have the opportunity to experience Norgesskolen.
Norwegian prices are high, and unfortunately, many parents do not have the opportunity to send their children to Norgesskolen because of the costs.
ACW: Why is a school like Norgesskolen important? There are international schools in Norway, why can’t the children go there?
LBH: What is unique about Norgesskolen is the combination of learning and the communication of language and culture and the social aspect. The children and youths who attend the school have a connection to Norway in different ways, but live in different countries and cultures, and then meet in Norway and spend three intensive weeks together at Norgesskolen. It generates a unique atmosphere which creates special bonds among the students. To quote one of our former students: It is so fantastic to be here with my Norgesskolen-family!
ACW: Do the students get a guarantee for the quality of the teaching?
LBH: Yes, by signing up! Nordmanns-Forbundet/Norwegians Worldwide promises that the teaching and the experience as a whole will be of the highest quality possible. The teaching is based on the curriculum of the Knowledge Promotion reform of 2006. The students are guaranteed teaching adjusted to their level through an introductory test on the first day of school. Our experience is that the students have a positive learning curve during the three weeks of school.
ACW: What is the vision for Norgesskolen, seen from your point of view?
LBH: My vision is that as many children as possible will get the opportunity to attend the school so that the students feel secure about their Norwegian identity, learn as much as possible about Norwegian language and culture, and create wonderful friendships and memories that last a lifetime. We also have ambitions to develop a similar program for other age groups.
For more information, visit www.norgesskolen.no or www.facebook.com/Norgesskolen. Contact Lisbeth Bø Håverstad at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone + 47 23 35 71 70. Registration deadline is May 15, 2012.
This article was originally published in the Feb 24, 2012 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. For more information about the Norwegian American Weekly or to subscribe, call us toll free (800) 305-0217 or email email@example.com.