Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Getting to Know...District 5 International Director Jostein Bakken

Ah, Jostein Bakken – the enthusiastic International Director from District 5. Read on to reminisce with him about emigrating from Norway and what might make for a stronger Sons of Norway.

Q: How did you get involved with Sons of Norway?

A: It goes back many years, when I first came to this country. My uncle took me to the lodge down here, Skjold 5-100. I was a member from late 1950 to the middle of 1960. Then I moved away, built a house, started a business and then came back again in 1980. Been a member ever since … about 43 years.

Q: What’s different about Sons of Norway now, as compared with then?

A: Not an awful lot has changed, I must admit. We have more young people now, but we had some then .. Of course, I was younger back then… Meetings are getting shorter…
What changes would you like to see in the organization in the next few years?
I think programs have to be improved. I don’t think that giving medallions are doing the job. Of course, I think the tickets to Norway are a good promotion, but it’s so hard to get programs. They aren’t the interesting and educational programs that we should be offering.

Q: Which leadership position within the organization have you enjoyed the most? Why?

A: [without a moment’s hesitation] District president. That was the most fun time in my life in Sons of Norway. The people! I felt at home. The board was really nice to work with, and I enjoyed that the most. And, also, you get to know and visit more people.

Q: When did you come to the U.S.?

A: I came to the United States the 16th of January 1950.

Q: Why?

A: I came for work. I was emigrating.

Q: What do you miss about Norway?

A: Well, of course, I think of Norway because it’s my motherland and it’s a beautiful country – lot of hills, lots of mountains and I was used to it. It was quite a change when I went back for a trip to visit my sister— she is still living there. I didn’t recognize it because it looked so small. I still have Norway in my mind and I frequently go back.

Q: What’s your favorite Norwegian food?

A: At Christmastime, I miss the lutefisk. Every Christmas Eve in Norway, we had lutefisk and ribbe and rømmegrøt.

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