Norwegians Worldwide visited the Honorary Norwegian Consulate in Miami, Florida, where we met Honorary Consul General Trond S. Jensen.
“Miami is in constant flux and things happen very fast.” –Trond S. Jensen
In 2003, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs decided to change the Consulate General in Miami from a career consulate to an honorary consulate, subject to the authority of the career Consulate General in Houston. At the time Trond S. Jensen was asked by the outgoing Consul General, Guro Vikør, to become Honorary Consul General and Leif Griffin was asked to become Honorary Consul. Since then, Beate Jakobsen has joined them as Honorary Vice Consul. “With three honorary consuls in a district that covers most of the State of Florida, we are able to work as a team while also complementing one another,” says Jensen.
Jensen divides the primary tasks of the consulate into three categories. First there are the standard consular tasks. This includes assisting people with visa applications, children’s passport applications, issuing emergency passports and other administrative functions (Some consular tasks, such as issuing biometric passports to persons 12 years and older, can only be performed at a Norwegian career consulate in the US). Secondly, they act as a liaison and supporter of the cultural, business and other community activities in the local Norwegian community along with the Norwegian Shipping Club/ Norwegian-American Chamber of Commerce, and the Norwegian Seamen’s Church. Finally, and most importantly he notes, they do their best to handle what he calls ‘human destiny situations’. This means assisting Norwegian citizens who have committed various misdemeanors and providing support in more serious situations such as illness, death, and imprisonment.
Growing Norwegian Community
Jensen describes the Norwegian community in Miami as growing. “This is mostly due to the “snowbirds” that come here and have two residences; one in South Florida and one in Norway. They are particularly active during the winter months. But also younger families settle here, many of them of mixed origins (one of the spouses is Norwegian and the other from another country). These families are here mostly via the cruise industry and companies associated with the cruise or other shipping related activities. Many of these residents are frequent visitors at the Seamen’s Church & Center; especially popular are the Saturday gatherings over “grøt og vafler” (porridge and waffles). Another vital part that greatly contributes to the growing community is the recent launch of the Norwegian Air Shuttle’s direct flights between Fort Lauderdale and Oslo.
Life in Miami
The Greater Miami area is diverse and highly international. Jensen describes it as a rich multicultural city mostly populated by first generation immigrants. “In many ways you can say that Miami is the capital of Latin America while still being a part of North America. It is incredibly diverse and an exciting city in which to live. One often talks of New York as a melting pot for people of various cultures. In Miami it’s more like a tossed salad, and you can easily observe and feel the ethnic differences and flavors. Miami is in constant flux, and things happen very fast. The area is home to some 70 consular stations, divided more or less evenly between Honorary Consulates and career missions. I have lived in Miami for almost 30 years and I have come to truly appreciate and love this young, dynamic, and vibrant environment.”
The Best of both Worlds
Jensen has lived and worked most of his adult life abroad, of which he has spent 35 years in the US and two years in Venezuela. He visits Norway several times a year. “I am lucky to have the opportunity to enjoy summer vacations in Norway with my family and in a setting with good Norwegian friends from my youth. This way I get to enjoy the very best of both Florida and Norway.”
-What areas do you want to focus on in the future?
“Charting a more detailed account of the Norwegian interests located in Florida will be high on my list of priorities. It is also one of my goals to continue the Norwegian-American Chamber of Commerce in Miami but as a more business oriented organization, combined with social interests and entertainment; an organization that could be used as a tool for Norwegian companies wishing to establish in this area, while operating as a club where the members assist each other with business opportunities. Due to the number of Norwegians buying second homes here, there is also great need for Norwegian real estate intelligence and accounting and legal assistance. Our bilateral chamber of commerce in Florida today is operated on a volunteer basis, so perhaps it is time to look at new possibilities.”