Who am I? Good question.
Even though my name sounds very Norwegian, I am a full-blooded mutt. My dad has Norwegian and German roots, while my mother has Slovak, Danish, British, and [very few] Norwegian roots. I learned Norwegian through many different language programs, but not at home as many assume.
I was first introduced to the Norwegian language through a choir called the Busserullene. We traveled everywhere to sing in concerts, parades and festivals. We of course wore a Busserull (a Norwegian peasant shirt). Among our highlights, I had the opportunity to sing for the King and Queen of Norway and to sing on a recording with Lillebjørn Nilsen & Steinar Ofsdal.
When I was 7 my [Norwegian] grampa decided to send me to Skogfjorden, the Norwegian Village at Concordia Language Villages. I enjoyed this experience so much that I ended up attending Skogfjorden for 10 years.
After high school I decided to attend Camp Norway in Sandane, Norway (during the summer of 1993) and then Sagavoll Folkehøgskole in Gvarv, Norway (during the academic year of 1993-1994). Gvarv, which is in the middle of Telemark, was located within a few miles from my paternal relatives, and I was able to travel all around the country and visit many relatives and friends. During this trip I also acquired a West Telemark bunad, which my mom embroidered.
I then decided to go back to Norway and attend three more programs to Norway:
* Oslo Year Program — Oslo, Norway (spring semester of 1996)
* S.U.S.T. [Scandinavian Urban Studies Term] — Oslo, Norway (fall semester of 1995)
* International Summer School — Oslo, Norway (summer of 1995 and 2003)
Each of these programs offered a unique perspective of Norway and Norwegian culture. I had a rich variety of urban vs. rural and American vs. Norwegian perspectives. During the Oslo Year Program I had the opportunity to hold an internship in an organization that fought governmental discrimination against minorities. This was a very moving & eye-opening experience. This, along with many other experiences, is when my interest with the Sami and immigrants evolved.
Besides studying in Norway, I have also studied in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, and have been to 24 countries, most frequently to Mexico (17 times and counting). More traveling to random places in the world is without a doubt in my future.
While doing most of my coursework in Norway, I was earning credits to Scandinavian Studies, History & Political Science Majors at Concordia College in Moorhead, MN. I graduated in December of 1996. During my undergraduate studies, I received the King Olav V. Scholarship in 1998 & 1996, The International Summer School Scholarship in 1995, the Astrid G Cates Scholarship in 1994 and the Danforth Leadership Award in 1993.
When I graduated from Concordia, I worked at Skandisk, Inc. where I was introduced to all aspects of working in a small business. I decided that I needed to leave after a year and a half to pursue more teaching and working on my own small business which was just starting to develop. In the evenings while I worked at Skandisk, I started teaching Norwegian classes for community education and I also soon discovered the network of Norwegian teachers and I started selling my materials to other teachers.
I finished my M.A. at the University of Minnesota in Curriculum and Instruction of Second Languages and Cultures in May of 2001. I applied to the department with one of my main interests being heritage language learners. This is due to the fact that the majority of students enrolled in my courses have a keen interest in their Norwegian-American heritage; these students enroll in language courses as a means of developing their ethnic identity. This growing trend is not only evident in Norwegian-American language learners, but with many learners, both immigrant and indigenous.
For my MA thesis I examined the phenomenon of learners enrolling in language courses as a means of going back to their roots (Heritage Language Learning) and issues of Language Revitalization. I have specifically examined the educational system of the Sami in Norway. Their programs have been very successful as a means of revitalization of language even though they have not followed the typical international models of bilingual education. In addition, I wanted to explore how the Sami have been able to incorporate their indigenous belief systems into the Norwegian educational system. The title of my project was: Sami Heritage Language Learners: Balancing Indigenous Traditions and Western Ideologies Within the Norwegian Educational System. A shorter version of this project was published in the SASS journal in 2003.
During the 1999-2000 academic year I also taught first year Norwegian at the University of Minnesota. While I thoroughly enjoyed this experience and would have loved to continue this for the 2000-2001 academic year, I received theTorskeklubben Fellowship which is funded by the Torskeklubben in Minnesota. How could I pass up the opportunity to be funded for full time studies? This was a wonderful opportunity for me to put more attention to full time studies & research.
Upon completing my M.A (during the 2001-2002 and 2002-2003 academic school years), I taught Norwegian to first year students at St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN. While this was a great experience for me, it was also extremely frustrating as I continuously had students in my class who couldn't follow the textbook we were using. Smart kids, the curriculum just wasn't working for them. More on that in a minute...
In addition to teaching language in the university setting, I also enjoyed being a counselor in the high school credit program at Skogfjorden and also taught a number of Norwegian baking classes. I was featured in the Tastemaker section in the Star Tribune in May of 2002. I taught these cooking classes for 10 years through the Edina Community Center in Edina, Minnesota.
Nancy Aarsvold (a colleague from St. Olaf) and I wrote a Norwegian curriculum for beginning Norwegian entitled Sett i gang I & II. My good friend, Chelsey (aka Leikny), whom I’ve known since I was seven, was our designer and a major part of the project as well. I am a huge fan of her design and was delighted when she accepted the role of designer (really, I kept bugging her until she gave in).
I spent the 2003-2004 academic year in Oslo, Norway where I took a summer course for teachers who teach Norwegian abroad at the International Summer School and stayed for the academic year to take a variety of language, history and literature courses. It was this year that I started teaching Norwegian Online.
In 2004, I moved back to the US, this time to the University of Texas. From 2004-7, I taught an intensive Norwegian course (two years of Norwegian in one year) and continued my Ph.D. studies in the Germanic Studies Department. I completed my dissertation in the summer of 2008, my topic was online language learning. I specifically investigated how students interact in an online language course, and how this interaction may lead to increased linguistic outcomes and course completion. I received a dissertation fellowship for the 2007-2008 academic year and I moved back to Minnesota to teach part-time at St. Olaf College.
I have continued to teach in the Norwegian Dept. at St. Olaf College since this time. I now hold a tenure track position and teach courses in Norwegian language, Nordic film, the Sami and English Language and Linguistics (in the English department). I continue to conduct research on how technology enhances language learning. In addition to my work at St. Olaf, one of the most rewarding new projects that I have been working on is the establishment of the Nordic Lights Film Festival.
I currently live in Minneapolis with my furry friend, Dag I.
So, those were the basic tidbits about me. Thanks for taking the time to get to know me better! You are also welcome to visit the other websites that I am actively involved with, NorWords and the Nordic Lights Film Festival- Twin Cities.