Updated: May 27
Yesterday, I was interviewed by some very popular guys from Iceland. As usual, they were down-to-earth, funny, interesting, and unique. I thought it was going to be a ”Hi, nice to meet you, Welcome to North Dakota, have fun on your adventure type of visit.” The producer wrote to me on Facebook, ”Atli suggested that we meet you, so we will just stop by for a short little visit.” Well, it was quite a bit more than that! I had never done a TV interview before and believe me —- I have A LOT to learn. Thankfully, they were very nice to me and tried to help me relax as five cameras, video cameras, and sound machines were all pointed at me. YIKES!
The guys were very kind and brought me gifts from Iceland – new mittens knitted by Andri’s Mamma, a fun map from Hugleikur Dagsson, a book from Nanna Rögnvaldardóttir, and a CD from KK. Meeting KK was the embarrassing part! I have listened to the music of Kristján Kristjánsson and love his song with his sister, Ellen Kristjánsdóttir. However, he introduced himself as Kris and unfortunately, I had not read the article in the Lögberg-Heimskringla. So, I did not put all the pieces together in my head that this was the same guy. He is a master guitar player and so popular in Iceland.
People always seem very intrigued when I tell them that I work as a tour guide in the Icelandic settlement area in both USA and Canada when they consider my age. I am freshly 30, but still I represent a lot of young people interested in the relationship between Icelanders and people of Icelandic descent living in Canada and the USA.
My interest in this special part of our common history began when I was accepted into the Snorri Program. In a blink of an eye my life changed. I immediately fell in love with the history and the people. I have learned a lot, through work and friendship, about the history of Icelanders in Minnesota, North Dakota and Manitoba.
I can’t wait to have the opportunity to explore all the other Icelandic cultural traits and treasures existing in Canada and the US. I remember last year when I was working as a guide and was travelling with about 200 teachers from Iceland through New Iceland.
I remember how fascinated they were, and thankful with having had the opportunity to explore and experience this important part of our common history, our far away family, and our common sense of existence. However, they did tell me one important thing that got me thinking.
They told me that after experiencing this they felt a bit sad seeing how little time was spent introducing and educating our young ones about this important part in our history at home. The future of maintaining this important relationship lies in the hands of us, the young.
The importance of this task has lain heavy on my heart. How do we approach the young in masses about the importance of history when the world rapidly changes, often so quickly you have a hard time comprehending only the present time?
How do we get that knowledge and the importance of the past to evolve as steadily as present knowledge, and why is that important? This is what I consider to be the main objective of the young regarding this matter.I was reading Morgunblaðið a couple of months ago and saw an article that caused a sudden interest.
A very well-known radio and TV presenter here in Iceland was heading America’s way to explore the whereabouts of the descendents of his relatives that moved to Canada. He wanted to see how the modern Western Icelander lives his life so far away from his cultural roots of origin in a continent that is filled with thousands of different cultures and customs.
However and best of all, the program host represents my generation and its curiosity. His name is Andri Freyr Viðarsson and alongside his producer Kristófer Dignus and crew, they intend to explore the community and culture of Canadians and Americans of Icelandic descent this summer.
Storming into Minnesota, North Dakota and Manitoba during two weeks in July armed with a camera, enormous curiosity and aiming to seek out lost relatives, they are also bringing pönnukökur pans and wool mittens knitted by their moms.
As a special treat, they will be accompanied by one of Iceland’s musical treasures, the artist Kristján Kristjánsson, or KK as he is usually known. He is planning to make a music album based on his Canada and USA trip and might pop up here and there along the way and burst out singing.
I advise my Canadian and American friends to be well alert if you see him because his music has a very unique sense of wellbeing and serenity that I have no doubt you will enjoy. Kristófer told me that the idea of bringing him along was as the concept of gift.
“We want to offer his music as a gift to our cousins in the west” he said, and what a beautiful gift it is, I tell you.Kristófer has been working as a TV producer for the last 15 years and been behind many of the most popular TV programs on Icelandic television. Kristófer told me that they had long wanted to do a TV documentary about the community and culture of people in Canada and the States who are of Icelandic origin.
However, before they got the green light from RUV (National TV) they had to prove themselves worthy of such an important and challenging task. They did so by doing two TV series. First was“Andri á flandri” (Andri Out and About) and the second series was“Andraland” (Country of Andri)
The first series came like a breath of fresh air onto Icelandic television and proved to be an instant hit among all ages. It was even nominated for an Edda Award. The second series just finished running a couple of weeks ago, and proved to be equally as popular. Both series aimed to explore Icelandic life in all its diversity in a very sincere yet humourous sort of way. Andri á flandri í Vesturheimi (Andri Out and About in the Western World)will be their third project.
I have no doubt this one will be a hit as well and evoke even more interest with our younger generations. Therefore it will continue to strengthen the ties and relationship, preserving this common part of our special history.Andri comes from Reyðarfjörður in the east of Iceland and has been involved in radio well over a decade now.
Today he is the host of Iceland’s most popular radio program, Virkir morgnar (Weekly Mornings) on Channel 2. He recently started dipping his toes into television and apparently he likes it. No wonder, seeing his presence on the small screen has proven very popular with people of all ages.
Andri brings his nonchalant self to the show with a certain level of sincerity and honest curiosity which seems to make him universally approachable. He has interviewed people of all different kinds of cultures within the society and does so in a consistent manner, using humour and an avidly inquiring approach. His sincere interest in everything makes the programs very educational and just pleasant to watch.
I, for one, am a fan of their shows and from an anthropological point of view they offer a very needed discourse in modern societies regarding diversity. Together Kristófer and Andri throw out mainstream modern images of society and public figures and dive into the Mondays of real people. They give the major part of humanity existence by doing so and in a very rapidly changing and fast growing world we get to pause for a second and think about our culture, the people who live in it and explore the beauty of diversity that lies within.
This dynamic duo, KK and crew, will land in Minnesota on the 23rd of July and work their way through most Icelandic sites along the way up to Manitoba. They absolutely can’t wait to meet all of you.
Andri giving K.N. Júlíus a sip of Brennevin
K.K. singing during the Deuce of August parade