Norgesskolen, a summer of learning

Every year kids from all over the world meet for three weeks of everything Norwegian

Photo courtesy of Norgesskolen
At Norgesskolen, celebrating both May 17th and Christmas the Norwegian way is part of the plan, even if it takes place in July.

Maria Vang Ormhaug

Norgesskolen is a summer school in Norwegian language and culture. The students are children and youth between nine and 18 who wish to maintain contact with the Norwegian language and culture. The school was founded in 2003 by Norwegians Worldwide, and more than 800 students from all over the world have attended since the beginning.

“For families that are moving out of Norway or returning home from years abroad, this is a perfect arena. They meet others in the same situation, and the school helps them create an international network,” says Bodil Dahl, leader of Norgesskolen.

Language immersion
The teaching is based on the curriculum plan of elementary Norwegian. The students are first and foremost taught in Norwegian, but the cultural subjects of history and social science are also represented in the teaching. There are four Norwegian classes every day. The classes are divided based on age and knowledge of the language. All teachers practice language immersion, which means the Norwegian language is incorporated in all parts of the school.

Every year Norgesskolen chooses a theme for the school. The theme creates a frame for the teaching, and is implemented in different ways. The theme for 2016 was Telemark county, where the school takes place at Sagavoll Folkehøgskole. Dahl is excited about the school venue: “Telemark county, like a Norway in miniature, is a great place to teach Norwegian language, culture, and history,” she says. This year, the theme is: What is typical Norwegian?

Photo courtesy of Norgesskolen
The school is first and foremost a place to learn or improve your Norwegian language and cultural skills.

As many as 70% of the students who attend return for a second or even third year and form lifelong friendships with other Norwegians abroad in the same situation as them. Many also go with their siblings. “Seeing the children reunited again this year was fun. Old friendships grow stronger at the same time as new ones are created,” says Dahl.

“The cultural diversity at the school is inspiring both for the students and the teachers and allows the students to increase their cultural tolerance and understanding,” she says.

Regarding dual citizenship, Norges­skolen is a great way of maintaining a connection with Norway. Children who are born outside Norway and allowed dual citizenship are required to apply to keep this before they become 22. In these cases, they are obliged to show their connection to Norway, and a stay at a Norwegian school will help in this process. It’s a way of showing your affiliation.

“The stay at Norgesskolen helps the children strengthen their Norwegian identity,” says Dahl. “Many of the students have a dual identity, as many of them origin from Norway as well as another country.”

Activities at the school
All of the activities are closely linked to the Norwegian tradition of “friluftsliv”—life in open air, meaning lots of outdoor fun. Every day there are culture and activity hours where the students participate in a wide range of activities. They get to experience Norwegian traditions under the guidance of qualified instructors. These activities are an important part of learning Norwegian. A lot of time is spent outdoors making use of the school facilities and the area around the school. The students go canoeing, camping, and hiking.

About Norwegians Worldwide
Norwegians Worldwide is a membership organization for Norwegians living abroad. The mission is to maintain the contact between Norway and Norwegians residing outside of Norway and promote Norwegian values. Norwegians Worldwide has members all over the world in 47 countries and local chapters and representatives in eight countries. They all work to promote the relationship between Norway and Norwegians living abroad.

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About Norgesskolen
• A two-and-a-half-week summer school for children between 9 and 18

• Established in 2002 by Nordmanns-Forbundet / Norwegians Worldwide

• Takes place at Sagavoll Folkehøgskole in Gvarv, Telemark

• Includes 4 hours of language training every weekday of the school

• Open to all nationalities

• No prior Norwegian-language training required

• Classes are formed based on age and level of Norwegian-language skills

• The school is concluded with a show put on by the students on the last day, which is open to parents and relatives

This article originally appeared in the Feb. 10, 2017, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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The Norwegian American

The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.