What do you do when you have two Norwegians, two hours, ten potatoes, ten spoons and 60 Brazilian kids?
You celebrate the 17th of May, of course! The 1st of November 2016, we took the 2 hour long drive to the very warm city with the extremely long name; São José do Rio Preto. We had been preparing for this day for several weeks, and finally it was time for “Dia de Noruega”. The car was packed full of homemade Norwegian flags, fake bunads, cards written in Portuguese and excitement. We were ready to share a little piece of Norway.
After changing into the only appropriate outfit (the bunad) and blowing up a few too many balloons – we were ready to officially start Dia de Noruega 2016. I would have liked to say that we did the whole presentation in Portuguese, but it turns out you need slightly more time than just 2 months to speak a new language fluently. Luckily for us there was a wonderful teacher who could translate for us when we were in need, and somehow we managed to teach 60 Brazilian kids about nordlys, smalahove, midnattssol, kvikklunsj på skitur, joik and 17. mai.
As we all know, the 17th of May is in many ways is the day of the children. Therefore we thought it would be fun to make a simulation of our national day. We teamed up with our good old friends – the potato, the spoon and the “sekk”, and were ready for sekkeløp, potetløp, barnetog and loddtrekning. The kids (and adults) really seemed to enjoy the activities, and they even learned a few new words in their vocabulary, like “hipp, hipp hurra”, “gratulerer med dagen” and “HEIA, HEIA, HEIA”.
After spending a whole day talking to Brazilian kids and adults about Norway and our culture, it made me realize something. There is something strange that happens to you, when you live in a foreign country for a longer period of time. After having some distance from your own country and culture, you start seeing it in a whole new light. While you learn that people are far more alike than they are different, you also start having a new appreciation towards things that you used to be oblivious to and take for granted. All of a sudden skiing, Norwegian mountains, fredagstaco, hyttetur and fish gives you the feels in your little Nowegian heart, while it also starts making room for the new culture that you’re learning new things about every day.
This is a strange duality that is difficult to put into words, and I don’t know if this is something that happens to everyone when they travel. Somehow tha place that you come from becomes a bigger part of your identity, at the same time as it becomes the least important part of you. What I do know, is that I am happy to be a part of more than one culture, where I can both share and learn new things every day.