Conversations in Norway


Posted by The Real Don Johnson on Sunday, February 06, 2011 5:34:09 AM

One of the pleasures in traveling; is the conversations I often have with people from another country and culture.
This is especially true with my visits to Norway where there are many relatives from several generations. English is well spoken in Norway; so the language barrier is non-existent except for the older generation of my fathers era.
Norwegians love America; and they love Americans; thus it is very easy to drop into a conversation about all aspects of life; and aspects of life on both sides of the ocean. This love for America; and all things American is not superficial; it resides deep within the very fabric and soul of Norwegians. Many of them have traveled extensively in America; and have visited America multiple times; not just to see the various sites and wonders; but to visit relatives scattered throughout the USA. Many also know and understand a great deal of American history. This love relationship is strong and extends across many generations; mainly because of the extensive migration to America in generations past.
As I am writing this; I’ve just scanned through a wonderful history book America-bilder. It is a history of Norwegian immigrant life in America from 1860-1960. Unfortunately (for me); the text is in Norwegian. Fortunately; it is primarily a photo history; with many wonderful pictures of this era; and from all over the US from New York City; through much of the Mid-West; through Montana and Washington; and up to Alaska.
Many Norwegians also keep up with current events in America; Americas wars; Americas politics; Americas economics; and more. A conversation will often begin with a question such as what do you think of Obama?; Do you think Sarah Palin will be the next president?. These are not just idle conversations and questions for many of the Norwegians; as often times you come to the realization they are articulating concerns that have commonality between the two peoples. Concerns about Islam and terrorism; concerns about the economies of the world; and their own nation. Concerns about the moral health of the country and the world around them. Concerns about the ascendancy of China.
I am encouraged when I leave one of these conversations; especially with the young men. It shows me that they are serious about their role in the future of their nation for their children; grandchildren; and onto future generations. I am encouraged also because I see this type of active engagement continuing from past generations. The first family member from Norway I met; was uncle Håkøn when he visited us in
California in 1970. Uncle Håkøn was in America to attend the wedding of the daughter of Donald Nixon; the brother of President Nixon. Uncle Håkøn (and my father) were cousins to Clair Jane Nixon; and the two cousins (one American and the other Norwegian) developed a close relationship resulting in an invitation to the wedding. We then met Håkøns son Øyvind in 1985 and developed a long lasting relationship extending to this day. Over these years; I could begin to see the values of this extended family being passed on to the next generation.
Among those values is a continuing love for America. Conversations don’t just center around America however. Cåre; the husband of my cousin Ruth; is a very engaging and interesting fellow. I’ve only met him twice over the years; and the first time we met he said something like ‘I only know three words of English’. I took this to mean that we were in for a very quiet automobile ride and subsequent afternoon on the farm. On the contrary; as the day unfolded we talked about a wide variety of things; his work on the off-shore oil platforms; Norwegian politics; Norwegian economics; US politics; European politics; economics and the rise of the European Union and the new Euro currency (this
was in the 1990s). He explained the rational of why Norway had voted twice against entry into the EU. Yes; conversations can be fun and informative;

Care to talk?

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