My favorite quote of all time is one that describes my experience in Norway thus far perfectly: “Great moments are born from great opportunity.” Each day here brings a great moment, whether it be participating in thought-provoking discussions of human rights with international peers, hearing powerful lectures from esteemed peace researchers, or just laughing with friends I met here (but know I’ll be friends with for the rest of my life) at dinner. I feel fortunate to have had countless great moments here, but in this blog post I’d like to highlight just two from today:
This morning began with an excursion to the Directorate of Integration and Diversity (IMDI). At IMDI, we were given a detailed presentation of how they approach integration in Norway. Their mission is to cooperate with immigrant organizations, municipalities, and government agencies to promote employment-based integration through resettlement, the introduction program, and more. What struck me about the presentation however, was the question we were asked at the end: “How do you think IMDI can improve upon its integration efforts?” It was nice to have a chance to think critically with my peers about specific ways integration can be improved since much progress is still needed. Our presenter even noted some of our suggestions, and said that our thoughts provide “nutrition for her work” at IMDI. This is something I have appreciated very much in Norway: many of the people we have met here are very open-minded and not only do they welcome our thoughts and opinions as students, but they also value them.
In the afternoon, we met with the former Prime Minister of Norway (!!) at the Oslo Center, which is an organization he helped found that promotes peace, democracy, and human rights across the world. Currently, the Oslo Center works on projects in Kenya, Ukraine, Somalia, and Nepal. It was inspiring to hear of the significant roles the Oslo Center has played in Somalia’s efforts to create political parties, and in Kenya’s legislative processes. While in Norway, there have been times where I have felt overwhelmingly saddened by all the suffering that plagues our world, but organizations like the Oslo Center give me hope that each one of us can make meaningful impacts in communities in need. I have learned that peace efforts take time and a lot of hard work, but progress is progress nonetheless!
These are just two of the many great moments I have had here in Norway. However, it is important to remember the latter part of the quote, which says that these moments are “born from great opportunity.” I am so incredibly grateful for this life-changing experience. I’d like to end my blog post by saying thank you to a few very special people: Thank you to Dr. Maya Soetoro-Ng and the entire staff of the Matsunaga Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution for thinking of me for this transformational opportunity, to our Dean of Social Sciences for making this trip possible, to my coaches and teammates for supporting me on this journey, to my family for their love and encouragement, and to every single person I have met here at the International Summer School. My experience here has been incredible because of all the inspirational peers I have met here and who have touched my heart. Thank you. I can’t wait to soak up my final great moments here in Norway!