Connecting us all
Nordmenn Verden Rundt brings together Norwegians across the globe with social media
By Christy Olsen Field
Norwegian American Weekly
Facebook is more than a digital photo album of what your kids did last weekend. Facebook provides a virtual meeting space for people across the globe to share similar interests, activities and heritage.We discovered a new Facebook connection with Nordmenn Verden Rundt (Norwegians around the world), which is run by Norwegian ex-pat Agnete Foster. Foster uses social media such as Facebook and Twitter to connect with Norwegians all over the world to share information about Norway.
Christy Olsen Field: What is your Norwegian background?
Agnete Foster: My background is actually a life as an almost constant Norwegian abroad. I am 100 percent Norwegian, born on an island in a fjord which is surrounded by some of the most beautiful nature there is. At the age of three my father was offered a job abroad and thus a life of travelling began. His job brought us all around the world and we were lucky enough as a family to live in many interesting places in Belgium, Japan and the U.S., to name a few. My parents are very much Norwegian and we have followed the typical culture and way of living as Norwegians but living abroad.
In each place we lived we were members of the many welcoming and loving Norwegian organizations spread across the globe: Sons of Norway, the Norwegian Seamen’s Church and other local Norwegian groups often started by partners of Norwegians working abroad.
In my teenage years we moved back to Norway and I finished high school. I did however return to the U.S. at the age of 19 when I was lucky enough to be offered a job at the Norway Pavilion at the EPCOT center in Walt Disney World, Fla. My days were filled 24 / 7 speaking about Norway and how unique and beautiful it is to guests from all over the world. After a year in Florida, I swapped hot and humid days and moved to Alta in the most northern tip of Norway to study tourism at Høgskolen in Finnmark and enjoyed a fabulous year living above the Arctic Circle. After that, I worked for a Norwegian tour operator abroad and I was stationed in Spain and Greece, to name a few. I finally settled on the island of Mallorca where my British husband and I ran a property company, had two children and various four-legged animals. We decided to move to the U.K. when our children were ready to go to school and the rest is history.
COF: How did you get the idea for Nordmenn Verden Rundt?
AF: It started as a hobby but is slowly turning into something bigger. It is something I have always felt was missing as a Norwegian abroad, a place where I as a Norwegian can connect and find information aimed at Norwegians all around the world, not just from the country or area I happen to be in at that moment.
COF: What is your goal with Nordmenn Verden Rundt?
AF: My goal was originally simply to unite Norwegians around the world to one area using social media where we can share photos, advice on life as a Norwegian abroad, schools, embassy information and other information which I have previously always searched for as a Norwegian abroad. Currently my posts on facebook are read by hundreds and my tweets on twitter are some times retweeted to thousands! I love the fact that some members of Nordmenn Verden Rundt are CEOs of large companies, some are young Norwegian students studying abroad for the first time, others are settled Norwegian or half Norwegians who just like following the news from home. Othes are “wannabe” Norwegians who have visited Norway and love the culture, and they are more than welcome.
My definition of Norwegian is anyone who feels linked at all to Norway perhaps through family, friends or just has an interest in the country. I don’t aim to reach one specific group, but all. My children were born abroad and there are many questions and queries I as a new Norwegian mother living abroad had. I think of information I feel I needed at many times of my life living abroad and try to post links that others may find helpful. What passport should they have? Should they attend a local Norwegian school? Should I try to keep Norwegian traditions? Are there other Norwegian organizations nearby? Are there jobs locally for Norwegian speakers?
In the medium- to long-term, I aim to create a website where all Norwegian groups and organizations will be welcome to post information on what they can offer to Norwegians all around the world. I may need to find more time or perhaps partner with someone who has the time and knowledge to build such a site as I have many plans for a wonderful and engaging website. So if there are any clever webmasters out there who would like to join me, feel free to put them in touch with me!
At the moment I am just enjoying running the various Nordmenn Verden Rundt areas via various social media and I have had invitations to Norwegian-run restaurants in New York, lovely emails from people like yourself and kind comments from Norwegians all around the globe.
COF: What do you love about Norway?
AF: I love the fact that it is so simple yet so modern. I love the fact that even though it barely has a population of 5 million, it has the most rugged coastline in the world, fjords, rolling fields, deep lakes, high mountains and everything you can wish for in one country! I love that it is ultra modern but still values old architecture and the simple things in life such as Nordic skiing with a bar of chocolate and an orange in your backpack. I want to stay connected with Norway as it is very much part of my identity. I also love living abroad and I want other Norwegians to know that you can easily be very happy and very Norwegian being a Nordmann ute i verden (Norwegian out in the world)! As a member of Nordmenn Verden Rundt you are never alone.
This article originally appeared in the Mar. 30, 2012 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (800) 305-0271.