As we close out this decade, I am blessed that I had the opportunity to spend the past two weeks in Norway to learn about my cultural heritage. Although both of my grandfathers were Norwegian, I never learned anything about Norway while growing up; as such, I was excited to learn about the indigenous Sami culture of northern Norway, the incredible valor exhibited by the Vikings, the history of the Hanseatic League, and the culture and customs of modern day Norway.
First off, Norway is so incredibly beautiful. One of the biggest highlights on this trip was our boat trip through the majestic fjords in the northern part of the country. Perhaps Rick Riordan put it best: “Pretty doesn’t do it justice. I felt like we’d sailed into a world meant for much larger beings, a place where gods and monsters roamed freely” (The Ship of the Dead, Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, #3).
While I appreciate my Norwegian heritage now more than ever, my favorite part of the trip was learning about how significant naval navigation was throughout the course of Norwegian history. On one rune stick that was carved out during the Medieval Ages, a runic inscription proudly boasts that “here travels the brave at sea.”
Norwegians have always led the world in exploring the unknown: the Vikings created trade routes connecting three continents, there is considerable evidence that the Hanseatic League traveled to North America and traded with Native Americans centuries before Columbus, Roald Amundsen was the first person to explore both the North and South Pole, and Thor Heyerdahl demonstrated the possibility of Incan contact with Polynesian Islands by sailing on a raft made of balsa-wood for over 100 days (see image below).
This past decade, I have been so privileged to continue this legacy and graciously had the opportunity to visit over 30 different countries, each with their own unique history and culture. In my travels, I have grown to tremendously appreciate the wealth to be found in diverse cultures. In doing so, I have learned so much about our country, our world, and perhaps most importantly, myself.
Perhaps Andre Gide said it best: “Man cannot discover new oceans until he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” Godt nytt år! Here’s to another decade of exploring the world. 🤙🏼