Christmas Greetings from Ambassador Kåre R. Aas to readers of the Norwegian American Weekly
As the song says, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” It’s a time when I like to step back and think about the good things in life, the things that really matter, the things I’m grateful for.
I’m grateful for my four children, and for the chance to watch as they blossom from wide-eyed children into responsible, smart, trustworthy young adults.
I’m grateful for you, the readers of Norwegian American Weekly, and the Norwegian-American community at large. Good job keeping those Norwegian family traditions alive, especially at this time of year. In my opinion, there’s really nothing better in life than coming together with friends and family to celebrate a Christmas—preferably Norwegian-style.
I’m grateful for Norway’s ongoing relationship with our closest friend and ally, the United States of America. And for the wonderful opportunity I’ve had, as ambassador, to get to know this amazing country and her people.
In 2015 alone, I paid visits to Philadelphia; Colorado; New York; Anchorage; Seattle; Miami; Minneapolis (several times!); Chicago (for a wonderful celebration on May 17, Norway’s Constitution Day); Anchorage/Seattle again, this time for His Majesty King Harald V’s visit to the U.S.; Clifton and Ft. Worth, Texas; and Boston.
Those trips have been a lot of fun. I’ve attended conferences and spoken out on climate change, Arctic issues, science, the European migrant crisis, girls’ education, Ukraine, and many, many more of the issues that dominated the headlines in 2015.
There’s a lot to be grateful for—and a lot to look forward to in the year to come.
We were able to accomplish a lot this year—and we were able to do it because we worked together. In an increasingly interconnected and globalized economic and political environment, we need our allies more than ever.
The world today faces several serious challenges. One of them, climate change, has recently been at the center of world leaders’ attention in Paris. Others, such as the conflicts in Syria and Afghanistan—and the massive waves of migration resulting from them—are subject to attention by the same leaders on a daily basis. They can only be solved if we all stand together. Dialogue, solidarity, and shared responsibility are all critically important ingredients for a successful outcome.
We need to keep talking to each other. So many tools are at our disposal these days that allow us to communicate with people in all corners of the Earth.
I’m using social media and other avenues as much as I can to reach out to the American public and to people back home in Norway. In addition to my Twitter account, which I began shortly after starting as Ambassador to the U.S., I’ve recently added a blog, the-y-indiplomacy.com, where I can write about issues that matter to me, at greater length than Twitter’s 140-character limit allows.
During the year that has soon gone by, I have also had the pleasure of reaching out to hundreds of students at 18 American universities—without having to leave my office. Through the “Virtual Ambassador” program I’m in a two-way electronic dialogue with them about subjects that are close to my heart and high on the list of Norwegian political priorities.
I hope you’ll consider following me and using these same channels to talk back, to let me know your thoughts. I welcome you to join me in the conversation. Your voice matters. A list of some of my and the Embassy’s online contact information appears below.
So please be in touch during the New Year. Who knows where 2016 will take us? There’s no way to know for sure. One thing I am sure of is that I will continue to explore the U.S., and during my travels I hope to meet as many of you as possible. Those I cannot meet in person, I hope to get to know online.
Wishing you a very Merry Christmas, god jul, and a joyous New Year filled with peace and prosperity.
Kåre R. Aas
Ambassador Aas online:
• Blog: the-y-indiplomacy.com
• Twitter: @kareraas
Additional links to social media, including Facebook pages and Twitter accounts for the various Norwegian consulates and Consuls General, can be found on norway.org
This article originally appeared in the Dec. 18, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.