BARDUFOSS, NORWAY -- U.S. Marines with Marine Forces Europe and Africa’s Marine Corps Element-Norway visited the Sami school Tromssa Sameskuvla in Bardufoss, Norway, Nov. 26, 2018.
The trip allowed Marines to interact with students from first to eighth grade and school staff to learn about traditional and modern aspects of Sami culture.
The Sami population is native to the Sápmi region, encompassing the northern parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and the Kola Peninsula of Russia. There are multiple Sami languages which are dominant in certain regions: Northern Sami, Southern Sami, etc. The children from this particular school learn Northern Sami, Norwegian, and English as part of their curriculum.
The common language allowed the Marines and the participants to compare the similarities and differences between the Sami and American cultures; getting to know each other through open discussions and various activities.
The school participants taught the Marines about the history of the Sami people, modern day life, school curriculum, traditional clothing, and about reindeer herding, its ties to farming and fishing, and its effect on movement to other regions such as Canada and America.
The Marines were also welcome to tour the school facility, participated in classes, a traditional meal, and activities to get hands-on understanding of everyday lives of Sami. The children also instructed the Marines how to lasso reindeer and explained uses of various items such as traditional tools, modern possessions, and items they’ve made while at school.
“It was informative, not only about the Sami people, but they also talked about Norway in general,” said a Marine with the unit that was part of the visit.
Receiving firsthand experiences and knowledge from people who live in Norway brings a better understanding of the region and the populace, while also giving the people of Norway a better understanding of the Marines deployed here.
This was the first trip the unit made to the school, building an important first impression and creating a strong bond through shared cultural understandings and genuine interests between people in the community.
“Building rapport with children expands on the relationship with our Norwegian hosts,” said the Marine. “We don’t want to just build rapport with the military, we want to build rapport with the community.”
Having these opportunities to make connections with the local people allows all involved represent the countries’ long and fortified bond and willingness to work together in the future.
“I thought it was a very great experience,” said the Marine. “I feel like more people should get the opportunity to do that because it really did open my eyes to Norwegian and Sami culture.”