Only hearing of Norway in relation to others around me and any course I have taken revolving peace and conflict, I never once imagined I would one day be granted the opportunity to visit, study, live, and breathe Norwegian air. Preparation for the Norway Peace Scholars Program began October 2014, when I first stepped onto Augsburg’s campus as an eager first-year looking to take advantage of all the opportunities tossed my way. Luckily, I had two peer-mentors, both who recommended I apply. Realizing how perfect this program was for me, I leaped at the chance, submitted the application in February 2016 and received an acceptance letter about a month later. As I boarded the plane three months after, I was still shocked at the experience I would embody as a 2016 Norway Peace Scholar; and finally we landed in Oslo.
As I tiredly boarded the bus to Lillehammer, where I would spend five full days of lectures, dialogue sessions, IRREPLACEABLY AMAZING food, and fun activities, my expectations were quite high. I can honestly say Lillehammer exceeded my expectations. The breathtaking landscape reminded me of the natural inlands of Namibia and South Africa. The green brush and trees warmly coated and protected Earth’s core. Glistening in the 22- hour sunlight, the water seemed to be welcoming adventure.
We settled into our rooms, ate dinner, rested, then the next morning we began with lectures. The room represented over 15+ countries among 27 people and I have truly made lifelong friends, although we each will be fashioning our own journey at the end of the summer. Our week in Lillehammer was filled with awkward small talk, boisterous laughs, trying to teach everybody how to wobble, and everyone managing to add others on social media, only so we can tag each other in our selfies of course! I think the best part of it all was being asked to create a two minute presentation on any topic within 15 mins; “The most original and hilarious presentation award goes to… head, shoulders, knees, and toes in Norwegian!” While this is only a glimpse of nine days thus far, Oslo has greeted us graciously, exposing us to Norwegian capital city and campus life. I hope to only immerse myself in the culture more, and to return with a better understanding of what it means to decolonize the peace process, dismantle conflict, and establish peace.