Hej! Jag heter Glenn.

Posted on February 4th, 2018 by

GWO students taking a break at Oslo's City Hall.

By Glenn Kranking ’98
Associate Professor of History and Scandinavian Studies

“Hej! Jag heter Glenn.” So began each day of our two-week course on campus prior to the start of the GWO tour to Sweden and Norway, and that phrase seems to have become a favorite of the students. The tour has not only been about performing and sharing music, it has also been a month-long course focused on Scandinavia. As a historian, I taught an overview of the history and culture of Sweden and Norway (and some language), connecting the places and museums we would be seeing as we transitioned from the traditional classroom setting on campus to Scandinavia.

In addition to the wonderful concert venues, our tour has included venues spanning history.

It is such a pleasure to travel with this group and experience the rich culture of Scandinavia through their eyes. I enjoy hearing about what most resonated with them and how they spend their free time.

Our time in Oslo took us on extremes in Nordic exploration. From the Viking Ship Museum where we saw exquisite examples of Viking age craftsmanship and artifacts, to the polar explorations of Fritjof Nansen and Roald Amundsen with the Fram Museum. We were able to board the Fram and see how the polar explorers would spend their multiple-year journeys and the scientific equipment they utilized for their research. The Fram Museum is a favorite of mine, as we can connect the heroic feats of exploration with the 19th century nationalism as Norway sought to become independent – which they achieved in 1905.

 

One of the course assignments for the students is to talk with me about their impressions and what they see regarding life in modern Scandinavia. Before leaving campus, we read The Nordic Theory of Everything which gave insights into the Nordic approach to life, and students are now focusing on the evidence of the welfare state that they see around them. Quite a few students have commented on the number of fathers on their extensive parental leave that they see with young babies. Or the evidence of multiculturalism in many of the locations.

 

 

But the tour is also about sharing music, and our concert in Oslo at Sofienberg Church, with a beautiful wooden carved ceiling, brought a special interaction. A number of children were in the audience and were fascinated by some of the instruments and sounds. James Patrick Miller took the opportunity to introduce them to the various instruments, to the great excitement of these young listeners.

 

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