Barneblad: What does it mean to emigrate to find a new home?

Brought to you by Lori Ann Reinhall

At the Eidsvoll Democracy Center, and entire wall has been set up where young people can express in simple words and phrases what their country and its freedom means to them.

What do freedom and democracy mean?

Let’s sit down together for a few minute to think about democracy, freedom, and emigration. Did you know that the United States and Norway are home to the two oldest constitutions in the world?

Democracy means rule by the people. This means that the people of a country decide what rules they will live by.

In the United States and Norway, the basic laws of the land are written down in each country’s constitution. These rules are meant to guarantee that people will live in freedom, peace, and happiness.

The U.S. Constitution was signed in Philadelphia on Sept. 17, 1787. The Norwegian Constitution was signed in Eidsvoll on May 17, 1814.

But in our world, not all people are free. They may not have work or enough to eat, or even a roof over their heads. They may not be able to say what they think, or their country may be at war. Some of these people emigrate to find a better life.

It is important to welcome these newcomers to our countries. Remember that all people are of equal value, no matter where they come from.

At the Democracy Center at Eidsvoll, Norway, there are many spaces and activities for children to explore their country’s history and the values on which it was founded, including democracy and freedom.

To emigrate means to leave your country to find a new home in another country. Most are looking for a better life. In the past, many Norwegians were so poor that they chose to emigrate to America. People who leave their country to go to a new one are called emigrants.

Today, Norway is a rich country, which offers its people not only freedom but good jobs and a good life. That is why many people from other countries now come to live in Norway. Many also chose to come to the United States. Once the emigrants come to their new countries, they are called immigrants.

It is not always easy to emigrate. The journey ahead can be long and hard. It can be sad to leave friends and family behind. Sometimes you must learn a new language. Everything is new and unknown. This is why it is important to welcome and to help newcomers to your country, their new home, with a smile and an open heart.

Build your own democracy wall

At the Democracy Center in Eidsvoll, you will find an entire wall where children have left their ideas about what democracy and freedom mean to them and what they value and love about Norway.

You, too, can build you own “democracy wall” right at a home. You may want to use a blackboard or a whiteboard, or sticky posts to write down the words that come to your mind when you hear the words “freedom” and “democracy.” You can think about why some people would choose to leave their countries and come to your country to build a new life.

This game is most fun when played with a group to share ideas, but you can also play it own your own. If you don’t have a wall space to use, you can also simply write your words and ideas on a piece of paper.

Once you start building your own democracy wall, it is bound to quickly fill up with ideas.

A rainbow staircase reflects all the colors of the world and welcomes all its different people.

Photos: Lori Ann Reinhall

This article originally appeared in the October 7, 2022, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE.

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Lori Ann Reinhall

Lori Ann Reinhall, editor-in-chief of The Norwegian American, is a multilingual journalist and cultural ambassador based in Seattle. She is the president of the Seattle-Bergen Sister City Association, and she serves on the boards of several Nordic organizations.