Friday, July 29, 2011

One Student's Story

Soon after learning of the Oslo and Utøya attacks last Friday, I began to wonder about the students and staff of the Oslo International Summer School. Three of this year's summer school participants are Sons of Norway Foundation scholarship winners, and they were on my mind because I had just finished editing an article about them for the October issue of Viking. Later that day I was relieved to read on Facebook that all the students and staff were accounted for and unharmed.

One of those scholarship recipients is Danielle, an international studies major at Colorado State University. This summer I've been following her blog, Passport to Adventure. In addition to the experiences she shared prior to the events of July 22, this week she's posted some thoughtful reflections on the attacks and the country's response.

This isn't the last you'll see of Danielle. She, along with two other Oslo Summer School scholarship winners, will be on the September cover of Viking. In that education-themed issue, we've created a go-abroad guide for students that gives the scoop on a variety of programs, including folk schools, university study and youth exchange programs.

You can visit the Sons of Norway Foundation website to learn more about their scholarships, and be sure to check out the October issue of Viking, where we'll be profiling the Foundation's work and this year's 27 scholarship winners.

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

Photo by Johannes Grødem via Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Prime Minster Jens Stoltenberg's Memorial Service Address

Today we have a very moving video of Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg's memorial address at the Oslo Cathedral. English subtitles have been included. As always, the thoughts and prayers of Sons of Norway continue to be with those affected by this national tragedy.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Tragedy in Oslo Update

So, here we are, less than 36 hours after a bomb exploded in central Oslo, killing at least seven people. Now, we have come to learn that this may have been the first of a two part attack against Norwegian citizens, the second being a mass shooting on the island of Utoya.

So far, what is known is that yesterday at 3:26 Oslo time a car bomb exploded outside of the Prime Minister's office, leaving at least 7 dead and dozens injured. A little over an hour later, there are reports of gunfire from a political youth camp on the island of Utoy, where a Norwegian counter-terrorism team was dispatched. Over the next hour or so the gunman proceeded to shoot and kill at least 84 people on the island. As the day went on, information began to come out that the gunman may also have been seen at the location of the bombing earlier in the day.

Last night and today teams have begun to search the wreckage of the bomb blast area, looking for trapped survivors and further casualties. So far it is still somewhat unclear what the motive behind these two heinous acts may have been, though a number of speculations have been offered by different sources. 

Sons of Norway is focusing on those who have been affected by these tragic events and how best to help in Norway's healing process as it recovers from the largest loss of life in a single day since world war II. It's not just the staff of Sons of Norway, either; it's the members, too. Those of us at the Headquarters have been receiving numerous calls from members asking for confirmed information and wanting to know what they can do to help.

It really makes me emotional to see this kind of outpouring of love and support for a country that is thousands of miles away across land and sea. I think it's a real testament to the commitment that Sons of Norway members have to our mission and to our namesake nation.

In addition to calls from members we've also been receiving a number of calls from media to provide commentary on how this story is being received by, or affecting, the Norwegian American community. In fact, the media has been reaching out to members and lodges throughout the U.S. and Canada. For those who are interested, I'm providing a list below, which will be updated as I get more information.

  • WCCO (MPLS) talked about Sons of Norway and interviewed our CEO Eivind Heiberg,
  • Duluth News Tribune spoke with members involved with the upcoming Royal visit.
  • Montreal Gazette spoke to our Edmonton lodge
  • Milwaukee members react to the tragedy
  • Sonoma gets local reaction from members and leaders
  • Santa Barbara lodge president speaks with Fox News affiliate
  • Baltimore members spoke with their ABC affiliate
  • Arizona District 6 officer spoke with local affiliates.
As I hear of more stories, I will update as much as I can. In the meantime, Sons of Norway asks everyone who is reading the blog today to keep Norway and its citizens in their thoughts and prayers as they work towards a brighter tomorrow.

Also, if you have a kind thought you'd like to share, or talk about how this event has made you feel, please feel free to do so in the comments section.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Sons of Norway Response to Tragedy in Oslo

Sons of Norway was shocked to learn of this morning’s bombing in Oslo. As an international fraternal benefit society, our members, leaders and staff all have many loved ones in Norway, so this news comes with an even heavier sense of sadness.

Our collective thoughts and prayers go out to all those who have been affected by this tragedy as well as their families and friends.

As we receive more information about this event, we will provide further updates on the Sons of Norway blog. In the mean time, information can be found at, Aftenposten and NRK the BBC. You can also follow the following twitter hashtags to follow the story as it develops: #Oslo, #Osloblast, #Prayforoslo.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Norwegians Dominate Tour de France

Yesterday was a proud day for Norwegians, when cyclists Thor Hushovd and Edvald Boasson Hagen took first and second place, respectively, in Stage 16 of the Tour de France. The race came down to a sprint between the two Norwegians in the final seconds of the race. Amazingly, Hushovd and Boasson Hagan were the only Norwegians competing in the event. Third place went to Canadian Ryder Hesjedal, who also claims one-quarter Norwegian heritage.

“It’s surreal," Hushovd said in an interview with NRK. "We are the only two Norwegians here, and we're fighting it out against each other. It’s incredible.”

Since going pro in 2000, Hushovd has competed in 11 Tour de France races.

“I just think I’m lucky to part of this big event,” Hushovd told Viking in an interview this spring. "Everyone's in their best form, so you have to be ready for that," he continued.

To read the interview with Thor Hushovd in its entirety, check out the June issue of Viking!

Note: This entry was updated to reflect clarify Hushovd's victory in Stage 16 of the race.

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

Photo courtesty of Global Ref, via Wikimedia Commons

Monday, July 18, 2011

Sons of Norway Foundation Lends a Hand to Minot Flood Relief

As everyone is probably aware, there is a Sons of Norway community in great need right now. Minot, ND has spent much of its summer, so far, dealing with a once-in-a-century flood of the Souris (Mouse) river and the monumental cleanup now that the waters have begun to recede. So far, we are aware of up to 75 Sons of Norway families who have been affected by this natural disaster.

The Sons of Norway Foundation is currently working to assist as many of these families as possible through its Humanitarian Fund, from which $1,000 Helping Hands to Members Grants can be awarded to aid members who are victims of natural disasters, like this one. The grants assist our members in their time of great need, helping them purchase items, like bottled water, groceries and other severely needed supplies to keep them going during the clean-up and re-build.

In true fraternal spirit, the Foundation is calling on all Sons of Norway  members and lodges who can help with this relief effort by making a tax deductible donation* to the Humanitarian Fund.  This will ensure that the Fund stands ready to help with current and future disasters. You may donate on-line or send your checks with "Minot" in the memo line (no cash please) to Sons of Norway Foundation, Att: Minot, 1455 West Lake Street, Minneapolis, MN 55408.

Please accept our heartfelt thanks on behalf of the victims who will benefit from your generosity.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Norway Goes Continental

The buzz in Norwegian newspapers this week is that Norway is now investing in some upscale properties in France and England. Why would the Norwegian government be buying up properties on Paris's Champs-Élysées or London's Regent Street? Because the managers of Norway's mammoth oil fund recently got permission to invest as much as 5 percent of its total assets in real estate.

The fund, officially known as the Government Pension Fund Global, has a current value of around NOK 135 billion (approx. USD 25 billion), and in June was named the largest sovereign wealth fund in the world. As of March, the fund had invested only 0.1 percent of its assets in real estate, according to an article from News and Views from Norway. This means the country is in the market for more property, and the article predicts Germany's largest cities are also considered prime real estate by fund managers.

Since the goal of the fund is to spread risk by diversifying the country's wealth, current law requires all but 4 percent of its value be invested outside of Norway. Some Norwegians disapprove of this policy, and would like to see more of the money spent on Norwegian infrastructure, education, research and tax relief.

To read more about Norway's ongoing oil fund debate, look for Jack Gordon's feature story in the upcoming August issue of Viking!

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-58.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Enzo Ferrante.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

A Cross-Cultural Celebration

Ever wonder how Americans living abroad celebrate the Fourth of July? If you were in Oslo today, you might have celebrated in Frogner Park with entertainment, dancing, games and, of course, American food. The annual American Independence Day celebration, now in its 26th year, was hosted by the American Coordinating Council of Norway (ACCN) and attracts about 20,000 event goers.

The ACCN is an umbrella organization for nearly 20 American non-profits based in Norway, including the American Embassy, Sons of Norway's Christiania 8-4, and Nordmanns-Forbundet. "One of our goals is to work together as American organizations to show the Norwegian people that we enjoy having fun, and we enjoy working together," said Bruce Allen, Sons of Norway member and event founder, in a recent interview with Viking. Allen added that ACCN gives profits from the event to charities and grants in Norway.

Want to learn more about Oslo's Fourth of July celebration? You can read the rest of Allen's interview in the July issue of Viking.

The staff of Viking wishes Americans living on both side of the pond a happy Fourth of July!

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-58.

Photo illustration by Doug Bratland from an original image by Flickr user Marionzetta.