• Peace and Reconciliation Dialog in Norway and the Balkans

Last Days in Lillehammer

When this trip began, I had no clue how heartbreaking it would be to leave Lillehammer. We’ve all had such a good time and found such great friends in the people here. The only consolation has been talking about the things that we plan on doing the next time we come to Norway.


Monday we said our good byes to Goron since we were finished with the dialogue practice. Then in the afternoon we went cross country skiing. As a group, we spanned the spectrum of skiing experience levels. I happened to fit in the category of “never before wore skis, of any kind, ever.” It should come as no surprise to anyone that my knees were completely red and purple at the end of the day from falling so many times in that hour long period of time.

Regardless, it was still a beautiful, surreal experience to be outside, surrounded by mountains and pine trees. Everyone that went was so glad to have had the experience. A couple people even had enough fun that they lost track of time and had to come back in a separate vehicle after we had all returned to Nansen.


Tuesday we spent the morning talking about Norway and its pursuits as a peace nation. It’s always interesting to consider the different perspectives that countries can have of one another. It’s fun to talk about, but mostly I’m just glad I’m not in politics.

We also went to Maihaugen, Lillehammer’s open-air museum. It consisted of many buildings from different parts of Norway’s land and history. Each set up including the landscaping similar to what it would have been like to see the buildings when they were in use. We were given a great tour by Mr. Sivertsen, who not only works at the Nansen Center but has also been very involved with Maihaugen. The exhibits gave us a great perspective of life in Norway throughout history.

That night we were invited to Steinar Bryn’s house to celebrate and reflect on our experience. There’s always something nice to look at in Lillehammer, and the view from Steinar’s house is absolutely no exception. We have been so fortunate to be his guests at his home and at Nansen.


This morning was filled with packing and good-bye hugs. Nansen Academy was busy hosting around 80 high school kids for Philosophy Day. I can’t help but wonder what those kids thought of us Americans, running around, exchanging sappy good byes.

At least not all of the good byes had to be potentially for forever. One of the Nansen Academy students is going to be joining us for our trip to the Balkans to continue the intercultural work that she started with us at Nansen. She’s so smart, thoughtful and open, that she easily won her way into all of our hearts. We’re all so excited about what new possibilities there will be with her joining our trip.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how unique this experience at Nansen has been. None of us ever expected to become as close to the students in the academy as we did. It was fun talking with the Norwegians about how we had each expected the other group to be. We had both been really prepared to have to explain a lot about our way of life, but, in the end, I think we spent more of our time finding out how much we had in common. Our lives at Luther and in Decorah made our time at Nansen and in Lillehammer simply feel like home. If it weren’t for the mountains, we might have just wondered how Decorah got so big over Christmas break.

For our two days in Oslo we will be taking full advantage of our Oslo Passes, which will give us free access to public transportation and museums. I’ll be taking advantage of the free time and free Wi-Fi to update the flickr page with photos of our adventures. Thank you for your patience. I had a couple fiascos over the last couple days with posts getting lost and then sitting around waiting to be officially published. I’ve made some adjustments to my blogging system and we’ll see if they improve things.

Looking Ahead

In the meantime, takk for taking the time to read. As sad as I am to be done in Lillehammer, I can’t wait for the new adventures ahead.