Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Help Me Bring Refugee Stories to My Classroom from Norway

A year ago, my family in Finnmark, Norway, welcomed refugees from Afghanistan to their tiny Arctic Norwegian community. The initial group of refugees have since moved on, but there is talk of establishing a permanent refugee residence in the old boarding school my dad and his siblings lived in as children (across the straight from my family's village, Kvalfjord).  Ironically, the island of Seiland, where the refugees were (and may continue to be) housed, was an important refuge for internally displaced native Sami refugees, including my ancestors, during the Nazi occupation.  The natives of the area spent years living in caves as their villages were burned to the ground.  Now, the tables are turned, and Seiland is welcoming refugees from very far away. 

I should mention that Seiland is very isolated, on an island in the very far northern part of Norway.  My family's village has a population of around 50.  If you open this article from NRK in Chrome, you can auto-translate it. My amazing aunt, Synnove, is pictured and quoted in this article. It is remarkable how this refugee community doubled the size of the local community, yet they were welcomed.

Kai Erik Bull / NRK
Although sharing refugee stories from the media is already part of our Global Studies curriculum, personally connecting my students with some of these folks through video, audio recordings, and images that I produce while I'm in Norway this summer will be especially meaningful for me and my students.  If they are receptive and willing, while I'm in Norway, I would like to share their experiences with my students through Instragram @KajtaniakintheWorld and blog, but I want to venture into the world of audio/video recording.  If you or someone you know can help donate or lend video and/or audio recording equipment, please feel free to email me: tkajtaniak@gmail.com

Afghan asylum seeker Roheek Yausofi waits his turn for food cooked on an open fire, with fish caught the day before by his father, on the island of Seiland, northern Norway, Feb. 2, 2016. Photo credit: ABCNews.com.go


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