torsdag, januar 20, 2005

Rambling on about the fantastic UWC

Back from Fjaler

Martin and I have had three hectic and jammed days up at the International College in Fjaler. I went down memory lane when it came to college and campus life (I went to Atlantic College in Wales); the 16-18 year olds didn´t look much different from what we did (even though it was interesting to see how the group Norwegian students has changed; hardly no one outside the posh parts of Oslo applied back in the day when I was a student, and I am pleased to see that kids from all around Norway, now are represented. However, I think the posh Oslo guys should start applying again. That was half the fun, and one of my most interesting culture shocks back then, become acquainted with Norskies that lived drastically different lives from what I knew as a Norwegian reality). The school is situated beautifully at the fjord (however, I´m even greater fan of the Harry Potter campus at Atlantic College)
It is utterly amazing to be back in an environment and a class room, where you have the example of international issues and conflicts right there in the class room. Palestine, Israel sitting next to each other, discussing the concept of knowledge (this was the one of the classes where Martin and I joined in, and be both relived the TOK-experience(Theory of Knowledge).. Even though Martin hasn´t had the pleasure of going to a UWC, he fortunately has done the demanding and highly regarded IB-diploma, so we have the same educational platform, thank God. The TOK-question was: What is certain knowledge, and is there true essence? Can a book shelf that is used as table still be called a book shelf? Yes, for all of you who has gone through Uni in Norway, this is a kind of Ex. Phil., except you actually spend the time in class wondering, pondering and freely discussing out loud. Lots of IB-students don´t understand the value of TOK when they are in the midst of it, I didn´t fully understand that at the time, but now, gosh I feel sorry for those of you who had to drag yourselves through Samfunnskunnskap and Fem-timersEngelsk in boring Norwegian Videregående, having a life without TOK and a classroom filled with reflections from the refugee, the guy who doesn´t need TOK for his later science-focused education, but he loves it, the Israeli girl who says that coming to UWC made her understand that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not the only one in the world. This certainly sounds like bragging and nauseous Hallelujah, and maybe it is. I´m just reminded from time to time how bloody important this period of my life was, it has shaped me as a person, and I am also reminded that I miss the cultural chaos and mix that is present in such a place.
So: For those who are the right age, and still can apply for the UWC: Do so. I encourage you even more than before, now as I´ve had a refill. This goes for Veldeda as well (a lot better than EF, I promise). For those who have kids coming up that age, or for those who even contemplate the idea of having kids, contemplate this option too. Of course it is hard to send your child away for school, knowing that they´ll go straight to Uni and never live at home again, but if you have children that would be able to handle an experience like this, their interest should overshadow yours (I realise that I have potential for preaching. What about that!). Check outthe Norwegian National comitee´s web pages (or find the link to your own national comitee, if you come from somewhere else).
This turns out to be a very chaotic post. I was as up there to do a lecture on Nordic Contemporary Lit. for the Nordic Studies class (which everyone has to take) and be a guest and co-pilot in the classes held by my favourite teachers of all times, Arne, who taught at the college in Wales, when I was a student. Being back in the environment of philosophical discussions on literature, was fantastic; Arne has this way of teaching that is excellent, demanding and challenging at the same time. He is fabulous at asking questions and engaging in a paratactical form of discussing. He´s one of the main reasons why I started studying literature, and rejected the Law school-offer in Oslo, when I was 18.
Martin also joined in the first year class, where the Theme was the relation between fact and fiction. Amongst other thing they had worked on ”Vi har så korte armar” by Olaug Nilssen. Tell me a Norwegian Videregående school that progressive.
My first novel is used in the Ab.inito-class, i.e. those who have Norwegian as a second language. How amazing isn´t it to hear a girl from Sierra Leone who talks in nynorsk about my novel. The fact that they are taught nynorsk and not bokmål (those who choose to do Norwegian as a second language that is), makes the whole thing even more special. I laughed hard when an African-American girl said: - I haven´t read anything but nynorsk. And she´s proud of it. When she´s teased by her Oslo friends for saying Eg, and not Jeg (that means I in Norwegian), it makes her even more proud of being nynorsk. The whole minority language issue is easy for people to grasp, much easier than for conceited Norwegians. Additionally this girl asked me: - How come Norwegians it is so difficult to do Nynorsk? What is the hard part.
That is my question too.
However, it is far from being all about academics, the main point with schools like this, and the real beauty of it, is that youngsters come from radically different backgrounds, and manage to co-exist in an energetic, productive and creative manner.
And above all: It was great having Martin with me, he´s a perfect fit-in. Additionally it is nice to be able to share these moments with him as well: me talking to an auditorium of high school-aged students, having tea with my old English teacher and academic tutor (yes, she has also moved from Wales to Fjaler, via other international schools and stops), letting him feel the warmth and energy from a fantastic lady and her man.
I like being reminded of how blessed I am.

2 Comments:

Blogger Veleda said...

Skjønte fort at noe av det der var litt retta mot meg. Begynte å betale før jul, kan ikke bytte til UWC, uansett hvor mye jeg vil.. Kjipt, men sånn er det.. skal sende broren og søstra mi dit, og alle ungene jeg kjenner/får. Hvorfor pusha du ikke mer på da vi var i Finland? :p

2:43 p.m.  
Blogger kathryn said...

How bizarre - at almost exactly the same time we were saying almost exactly the same things - I was at AC on Wednesday, and talking about how weird and wonderful it was/is on Thursday! Lodewijk, the Peace and Conflict Studies teacher, remembered you from being at the Nordic College.

xK.

12:33 a.m.  

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