I deeply treasure the two years I spent in Fjaler at Red Cross Nordic. Not only did I make friends with schoolmates who are now embarking on inspiring pursuits, but I also formed relationships with teachers who I count as mentors even today. It was here also that I was introduced to the joys of folk dance and music through the local community dance group that meets on Thursdays. I was also welcomed into the folk orchestra (Dalsfjorden Spelemannslag) and travelled with them to summer music festivals around Norway. I feel blessed also to have gone hiking or skiing every Friday with the Outdoor Discovery student group, which introduced me to the importance of “friluftsliv” (“free air life”) and also to the truth in the Norwegian saying that “There is no bad weather, only bad clothes.”
These experiences led me onward to focus on Anthropology for my undergraduate studies, and branch out into Forestry for my masters degree.
I had a strong interest in geography and sustainable development while I was at RCN, and having lived with students from over 80 nations, I wanted to understand more about how human societies and cultures work. My love for folk dance and music led me to write my undergraduate thesis focusing on Fjaler, and I traveled back to interview members of the local dance group and the folk orchestra. Their enduring friendship, support and welcome is something I treasure very much. It makes this place feel like a second home.
The time I spent outdoors here also deepened my love for nature and sparked a curiosity about the relationship between humans and the environment, and how natural and social systems interact. This is, in fact, what I see myself doing for a long time to come. I am currently working as a geospatial analyst at Yale University, for a research group focusing on land management and ecology in the American West. I make maps and analyse satellite images, and might also be found outdoors gathering data from the field. I will also use my anthropology skills in understanding the social landscape of the place we are working in.
While I was a student at RCN, some classmates and I were part of a humanitarian and education focused student group called DROP (which stands for Do Remember Other People). This simple motto is something that has followed me after leaving. One thing I learned from our fundraising efforts selling souvenirs donated by classmates, or coffee and cake in the Flekke shop, was that change can start anywhere. Indeed, one person or a small group of people can make a big difference. As someone who has been given tremendous opportunities through the education I have received in my life, I hope to put these skills and knowledge to good use in time to come.