The fall before the first ever Norgesskolen I received a brochure from the Norwegian Embassy in Tunis, Tunisia. I understood immediately what it was. For many years I had been jealous of my Danish colleagues who had a similiar offer for their children.
When you fall in love you will moved to the end of the world without thinking about the consequences. But when you have children, Norway suddenly feels far away. For me it was important that my children could speak Norwegian just as well as they could speak Arabic or French.
We had lots of Norwegian books and when these got worn out we made up our own stories. We also used videos and other helpful materials. We celebrated Christmas but there was so much more that my native country represents, such as traditions and surroundings that are difficult to explain. I have lived abroad for many years making it even harder. My husband and I, like so many others working abroad, find it difficult to offer our children long periods in Norway at a time. Norgesskolen was the perfect solution. They even pick up the kids at the airport.
Unfortunately for us, Norgesskolen began a little too late. My two oldest had already gone to Norwegian Folk High School. This transition was difficult for them. They had good spoken Norwegian skills but lacked written skills.
But Jamil got the opportunity. He was 14 and could hardly wait to start when he received the e-mail from Lisbeth Bø Håverstad that he had been accepted.
Cell phones weren’t as accessible that first summer and although we had agreed on a time to call, it wasn’t easy to get hold of him the first days. Finally, we received an e-mail and it was so full of enthusiam that we knew we had entrusted our youngest to caring (and fun) people. Jamil wasn’t satisfied with only one year at Norgesskolen so we immediately signed him up for the next summer. When he reached 18 he had to accept that he was too old for another summer at Norgesskolen. This was extremely hard. He chose to continue with Norwegian Folk High School and he felt well prepared to do so.
At Norgesskolen Jamil met many children who were “different” because of their international background, and together they discovered that this is a great privilege. They have two cultures that will always be a part of them. Jamil also improved his written Norwegian and has knowledge of the history, culture and traditions of Norway.
Norgesskolen is demanding, but the schoolwork is combined with fun activities – singing, dancing, theater, excursions and nature. For my family it has been well invested money and now I am waiting for grandchilren so that we can continue the tradition!