Bryndís Viglundsdóttir has led a very interesting life and has many special stories to tell. She has written this blog post to tell you of a great opportunity to get a set of audio books, The Boy Mundi in English, Sögur af Munda og Jólasveinarnir og Grýla í Íslenskur. I received my copies in the mail yesterday!
By Bryndís Viglundsdóttir
Good memories we manage to give to our children is about the best we can give them be it in the home with stories or traveling to foreign countries.
My late husband, Mundi, grew up in a remote valley in the Westfjords. We married and I was on my way to study at the Boston University on a scholarship from the Perkins School for the Blind. My husband, Mundi, came to live with me and was not very happy! He was in short homesick! I thought of something to help him so I began to ask him how it was in the valley when he was a boy. I wrote what he told me, read it for him over and over, rewrote until we were happy with the stories. I am very pleased that many Icelanders have bought the audio books for their children and for themselves.
Three years ago, I was at the Perkins Museum and it was great fun. If anyone would like to place an order for the audio books or hand-knitted Icelandic wool items, please contact me. Here is a flyer from my time at Perkins and my email is on the bottom of the flyer and at the bottom of this post. As soon as I hear from people I will send the book(s). If people want to order sweaters, I will guide them on the size and discuss the color(s) with them. I enjoy very much knitting sweaters for people.
Read more about Bryndís and her time in America:
Both my children were born in Boston where I taught for years. We debated giving our daughter the name Sunna and chose the name Sólbjört for her. She reads the stories in English. We traveled through the areas Egill Helgason has been showing us in his Vesturfarar program, marvelous programs.
I was ten years old, in 1944 when I decided to go to America one day. Somewhere I had found a book about many outstanding American people, Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Harriet Tubman to name a few. I wanted to see their country and get to know the people there. When my teacher in grade school once asked us what we intended to do when we were grown up I said I wanted to go to America. The class laughed! My teacher didn't laugh but said, "Whatever you really want to do you will be able to do if you work for it." This was in the year 1944 and the common people of Iceland were not travelling in those days but I believed her.
After graduation from college, Menntaskólinn í Reykjavík, and having also completed my teacher´s certification, I decided the time was right to find a way to go to America. There was a notice in Morgunblaðið from the IIE (Institute of International Education) where a scholarship was offered to America. I applied and was lucky enough to get the scholarship. I was on my way to America! My parents had a farewell party at our home the night before my departure and my grandmother was of course at the party. She lived in the house with us. She was very unhappy, really grieving as she thought she would never see me again. She remembered when shiploads of people were leaving for "The West" and some were never heard from again. My mother shared all my letters with her and her worries evaporated!
I had a wonderful year in Cedar Falls, Iowa studying at the Iowa State Teachers‘ College (now University of Northern Iowa). I made many friends there, many of whom have come to visit me and my family in Iceland. Two of my professors, Amanda Langemoe ( of Norwegian decent) and Dorothy Moon, invited me on a cross-country camping trip for the entire summer. We began our trip by visiting Amanda‘s family in Minnesota and stayed a night with her uncle, a wonderful 92-year-old man, full of life and about to be remarried! He showed us his beloved Minneapolis and you could never guess his age. My two friends showed me their country, told me the stories of the regions, they knew the birds., the plants and trees, the ancient and present culture of the many regions we visited. We drove west, over the vast plains, spent a week hiking in the National Park of the Rocky Mountains, went through the southwest states to the Grand Canyon, Mesa Verde, Petrified Forest, Yosemite National Park and experienced the grandeur of the Sequoia. This is just naming a few places. I cannot fully recount the effect of the kindness I experienced during my stay that first year in America, it had a lasting influence on me for the rest of my life.
When I had boarded the plane to go back to Iceland, as I was obliged to do after the year, I resolved to come back. When or how I didn't know but I wanted back to America and now to New England. I taught for two years at a public school in Reykjavík and then I was contacted by people who were looking for a teacher willing to go to Boston to teach deaf-blind people. So I went to Boston and studied at the Boston University on a scholarship from the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, Mass. After completing my studies, I was employed by Perkins and stayed there for seven wonderful years. Again I was fortunate enough to meet many wonderful people. Some friendships have lasted over half a century! As I write this my son is visiting New York and Boston with his wife and two sons and he will be seeing some of our American friends from the days we lived in Boston.
During my stay in Boston, I was married to an Icelandic man, Guðmundur Bjarnason (Mundi) and our two children were born there. They both have very strong ties to the US and my daughter goes regularly to Boston to give courses and seminars. She is a reiki master, healer, and a gong healer. Besides that she is a Kundalini yoga teacher, having studied in Iceland, California and India. My son works at the National Surveillance Station at Keflavik (formerly within NATO).
On returning to Iceland, I soon became involved in educating children with not only hearing and sight impairment but also with additional problems and in 1972 I became the director of the Þroskaþjálfaskóli Íslands. The students entering the school had as a rule finished junior college, had experience working with handicapped people and must be at least 21 old. The curriculum I shaped with my staff were from two disciplines, that of pedagogic and health. The end product should be knowledge in þroskaþjálfun- that is training, caring and teaching the handicapped people my graduates would be working with. I headed the school for 21 years and it was a very demanding and good period. I went on many study trips abroad with my students learning and seeing what was being done in other countries. We visited Boston a few times, all the Scandinavian countries, England, Russia and Israel. I set out in the beginning to try to develop the program so it was deemed a full university program and it took 21 years to see that happen! Now the Þroskaþjálfaskóli is a school within the University of Iceland, Reykjavík.
While we lived in Boston, we took a cross-country camping trip the summer of 1963. This time it was my turn to show my husband your beautiful country and we also went to Canada and spent some time in the Canadian Rockies at Lake Louis and Emerald Lake, beautiful regions. Then we drove across Canada making many stops on the way. Wish I had known at that time more about the Icelanders living there as we certainly were in the areas where Western Icelanders were and are living. In 2011, the Boys Choir of Reykjavík visited you and two of my grandsons sing with the choir. They had a great visit with you. Thank you for your reception.
I wanted to tell my people here about the beauty of your country and some of the culture so I contracted with the Icelandic radio and gave thirty lectures about the National parks, the present culture and the culture of the North American Native First Nation people interwoven, decorated with American music. I have also translated a few books that I usually read over the radio, e.g. Never Cry Wolf, by Farley Mowat, Ben and I by Lawson where I wove real life information about Benjamin Franklin into the tale by Lawson that he has Amos, the mouse tell, all four books by James Herriot the Scotch Vet. about his encounters with men and animals.
My husband, Guðmundur-Mundi, told me many stories of growing up in the West Fjords. I wrote what he told me and these are the stories I am presenting to you now in the hope someone might be interested getting a copy. The stories are being used in many of our grade schools teaching the children about a life style that has really disappeared now. I am very pleased to see the stories being used in that way.
I have always enjoyed handicrafts, knitting in particular. While we lived in Boston many would order sweaters from me and I was pleased to try to meet their wishes. Three years ago I visited my old school and had a sweater sale there, great fun and success. I am sending an attachment along that was circulated before the sale. I am still taking orders from whoever likes to order from me!
Now the days of work outside the home are over, still there is always enough to do. I live with my son and his family in a big house and there is hardly a dull moment. Each day is a gift I accept with gratitude and in between daily chores I am organizing memories and writing them for my children and descendants.
Life is good.
Bryndís Víglundsdóttir has a website.
She says the prices shown on the website are incorrect and please contact her for more information.