DAY 24(May 17)
Hail Freya! Today I woke up at 0600, went outside to the park/square area in the middle of downtown Oslo, said my morning prayer and drew Tiwaz; Tyr, justice, victory, courage. I am very happy about that since today I will face my first individual challenge.
Frokost is between 0630 and 0730, then we have to come back to our rooms where a surprise will await us. I’m sure it will be the Bunads…I can’t wait to see what mine looks like, and wear it in the parade. Turned out that the bunad I got was not the one from my family’s area, and it didn’t fit too well, but some safety pins got me through the day.
We spent the first part of the day just enjoying 17 Mai in Oslo. We had a spot up by the royal palace where the king came out and waved to everyone. I have never seen a king before. When we Americans think of kings we often think of fairy tales and ancient history. It’s pretty cool that I am standing there looking at a real live king and his family. I especially love the Barnetoge, it is the children parading through the city, and a pretty big deal for them to participate in, a river of children. Everywhere I look is red, white, and blue, people in bunads, and kids eating ice cream. It is as if the entire country is out celebrating this day. I am so privileged to be here.
Eventually our challenge was announced; the four of us would have to write and perform a speech about 17 Mai in front of a park full of people, we would be judged by two members of the Parliament. I am excited about this challenge.
We only had about 40 minutes to talk to people, write the speech, memorize and rehearse it as best we could, Dana went first, then Jonathan, then me, then Amy. I thought we all kicked ass, especially Amy, who I picked as the winner. Each speech was very different though, so much so that it will be difficult to compare them, I have no idea how it will be judged. I don’t know if I am safe. My plan for the speech in the limited time I had was to appeal to the emotions of the audience, and speak with pride from the perspective of a Norwegian-American seeing and learning about 17 Mai for the first time.
The time between giving the speeches and learning the results was brutal, finally though, they were ready to let us know. The judges told Amy and I that we were safe first, I hailed Freya as I got the news and was extremely relieved. Then it was down to Jonathan and Dana…Dana would be the one leaving Alt for Norge.
As I re-write this now I have watched this episode. Much of our speeches were edited out for time, so I thought I would include my entire speech here, for posterity:
I began in my broken Norske that I had picked up:
Jeg heter Alf Herigstad, jeg kommer fra USA, jeg bor I Olympia Washington, men blodet mitt komme fra Norge…sammen med min ånd. Jeg elsker dette landet…and that is why I am here today; because I love this country!
From when I was a small boy I have always been very proud to be Norwegian. When I was playing with other children being Norwegian was my “super power”; It made me stronger, smarter, and faster than the other kids…at least that’s what I thought. But, what I want you to know today is that now, after being in Norway and celebrating 17 Mai with you, I have become more proud of this country than I ever thought possible.
One reason I am so proud is because YOU, the Norwegian people are so proud! That is evident in the fact that your national anthem has 10 verses…it took ten whole verses to fit in everything about how wonderful this country is! The American anthem only has 3 or 4 verses.
Just look around you, there is very little garbage in the streets, all the people here are well taken care of and seem to have what they need. The pride and spirit of excellence that won your independence in 1814 is reflected well in the Norway that exists today, and in how you live.
It is amazing to someone like me, to think of you earning your independence after 400 years of Danish rule, that is almost twice as long as America has even been a country! In two years you will celebrate 200 years of that independence…well done Norway, well done.
Thank you all for your time today, it has been my great honor and privilege to be here, to wave at the king, to see the Barnetoge, and to speak to all of you. You have very much to celebrate on this joyous day, live it well! Gratularer med dagen…TUSEN TAKK!
So, that was my speech. We have an opportunity to say goodbye to Dana tonight and I am glad; I like him a lot and consider him a good friend, he will be missed.
I heard we were eating Chinese food tonight.