Saturday, June 18, 2005

A Taste of Minnesota

Trønder-Avisa (The Trønder Newspaper)
Thursday, June 16, 2005

A taste of Minnesota

SNÅSA: Yesterday Snåsa took in American forces. With music stands and instruments.

Photo caption: Don’t want to have lutefisk: “Lutefisk, no thanks,” say four good-natured music students from St. Olaf College. In front Teagen and Laura, in the middle Megan and Merry. Farthest back the hosts Heidun and Torstein at the Vinje parsonage.

By Erik Vådal (translated by Karen Hansen)

“America is an especially large part of the world that lies west of Norway. To get there you must sail over an ocean that is approximately 900 Norwegian miles wide.”

The above citation was gotten from what one perhaps could call a travel handbook, written by one of the first emigrants from Snåsa to America, Ole Rynning, and published in 1838.

120 guests
And in these days, Snåsa has received a visit from this “especially large part of the world” in the form of music students from St. Olaf College in Minnesota. With technicians, directors and leaders, things revolve around about 120 guests. They have already been in Norway a good while and have had concerts over half the country before they now “top” the tour in Snåsa and in Stiklestad, before the whole thing concludes in Trondheim with a concert in Nidaros Cathedral this coming Friday.

The tour is St. Olaf College’s marking of the centennial celebration of the dissolution of the union.

And the selection of Snåsa is not accidental. St. Olaf College, perhaps the most prestigious university west of the Mississippi, was in fact founded by pastor Bernt Julius Muus from Snåsa in 1875 [sic].

A little special for the visit in Snåsa is that the students, for the first time during the tour, are being lodged with local host families, something they say they are very happy about.

One of the many host families are the renters of the Vinje parsonage, Heidun Oldervik og Torstein Grande. They will house four young female students, Teagen, Laura, Megan and Merry. And the girls are extremely cosy, open and pleasant.

“We have had it good in Norway,” they explain, and Laura thinks she understands a little more about the mentality at St. Olaf College. “People with background from a land with so many steep mountains must be tough and hardworking,” she believes.

Must pay 3,000 dollars
Otherwise they are in agreement that Norwegians are not particularly different than themselves and are actually a little surprised about how “internationally” prominent Norwegian society is.

“But it is expensive,” says Megan. And we understand well that the prices get their attention when they explain that they figure to spend about 3,000 dollars each out of their own pockets for the tour.

They hint that some of the bus trips have been a little tiring, but never mind.

They’re not sorry and assert, “We would like to come back!”

Their biggest fear before the tour was having to eat lutefisk, and we see how they actually shudder at the thought. But hostess Heidun has everything on dry land: homemade pizza should fit well for four teenagers from the other side of an “ocean that is about 900 Norwegian miles wide.”