“We put a marker on Norway in New York.” –Elin Rognlie.
Elin Bergithe Rognlie has represented Norway, Norwegian interests and Norwegians on the east coast of the US since August 2013. Before taking her position in New York, she was Chargé d’Affaires at the Norwegian Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya. Rognlie previously served as Policy Director of Renewable Energy at The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Oslo. She has been stationed at the Embassies in Washington DC, Ottawa Canada and at the Norwegian Delegation to the OECD in Paris.
-How would you describe your way into this position?
“It began when I was 19. I went on a long road trip across the US in a Greyhound bus with a friend. I fell in love with this country, and my feelings remain strong. You can say that it is a dream come true to be back and have this job now.” Cultural exchanges between the US and Norway are among the key priorities at the Consulate General in New York. “Throughout my career I have been working with trade and business, both in Norway and abroad. I’m new to the cultural scene, which is very exciting. Thankfully I have very professional colleagues with a lot of experience in the cultural field. One of the projects we are involved in is Performa (November 1-24 in New York), the only biennial dedicated to commissioning, presenting and exploring new visual art performance across disciplines. The strategy of the Norwegian Pavilion is specifically to highlight cultural producers in Norway and present some of the country’s most outstanding artists. We will all together have about 50 Norwegian artists participating in this big event. We put a marker on Norway in New York.”
-What is your primary focus?
“I’m quite new in this job, and in the beginning it is important to build a network. I have to get to know the people and the right institutions. The cultural scene in New York is huge, and we want to promote Norwegian artists as well as businesses. We need a well planned and long term strategy in this very competitive environment. Only when you work strategically, you can meet your goal. We also focus on Arctic/High North and gender issues, and we try to be active on social media like Instagram and Twitter to inform the public about Norwegian politics and activities.”
Life in New York City
Rognlie describes living in New York as rather different from Norway, and other places in the US, such as Washington DC where she was previously stationed. “New York is amazing in so many ways. You have to find your own routine when you get here. It’s nice that you don’t actually need a car; you should rather avoid it because of the traffic, unlike everywhere else in the US and in Norway! People are very busy here, and this is something we always have to consider when planning events. They don’t have time to stay for long, so everything must be straight to the point and effective. I appreciate feeling safe in such a big city, which is quite unique. Coming from Norway, I always bring with me the Norwegian way of doing business. In Norway there is flat structure and an open discussion, people try to come to an understanding even if they disagree, and everyone gets a say. This is something I treasure, and it is an important part of being Norwegian.”
Follow the Norwegian Embassy and the Norwegian consulates on Twitter: @NorwayUS, and follow the Consulate in New York on Instagram: @NorwayNewYork