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Wanderlust – Snorri Program

Updated: Feb 8, 2021

Below you will read a wonderful story written by Snorri Program participant, Justin. He was the recipient of a scholarship from Icelandic Roots. As a 501c3 nonprofit organization, our mission is to help others. We do this in many ways and with many different organizations including the Snorri and Snorri West Programs.

Thanks for the article, Justin. So glad you enjoyed your experience in Iceland. Now to everyone else ….. Enjoy the story below ……

In our second week of classes in Reykjavik, the Icelandic singer/songwriter, Svavar Knutur performed for us. He opened his performance with was a song called “Wanderlust” – a bittersweet song about the joys and sorrows that come from travel and moving away from home. The refrain reads: “Ain’t it hard to have a home, when all you’re longing for is to ramble and roam. It makes it hard to have a home”. In the moment I found the song moving but in the past couple weeks, it has only grown in personal significance, especially in the context of my time with the Snorri program and my relation to Iceland and my Icelandic forebears.

I’ve had my share of wanderlust over the past couple of years. Before my time in Iceland I lived and worked for two years in rural Mozambique. And it really has been hard to have a home because I’ve come to see how much you can see and experience by exploring a life outside the familiar. This is of course one of the biggest forces that drew me to the Snorri program. And one thing I’ve noticed is that it’s often the smaller more intimate moments that stick with you and make the greatest impact. For me it’s been moments like our concert with Svavar, a shared meal with my newfound Icelandic family, or the personal time I spent getting to know Icelandic teenagers at the summer camp I worked at. None of these were huge monumental experiences but I can already tell they’ve left lasting impressions on me.

Near the end of my time with the summer camp, I took a moment to catch up with friends on Facebook. I noticed that my Facebook feed was a chaotic sea of different ideas from people all across the world: my Icelander friends and family talking about their lives that I’ve now taken part in, the friends I met while serving in Mozambique in the Peace Corps, and of course my friends and family back in the states.

Looking at my computer screen – – I again found “Wanderlust” playing through my mind. Specifically the lines that read “And ain’t it good to say goodbye. Throw your troubles into the sky. Makes it good to say goodbye. Makes it sweet to say goodbye. Makes it hard to have a home. But kind of sad to be alone”.

The sad thing is that these moments are fleeting. The same wealth of experience that makes rambling and roaming so enriching makes it so you can’t live your life with all of the people you meet. You get to meet people that will leave an indelible presence on your life but then have to say goodbye. And looking at the vastly different things everyone was posting, I couldn’t help but feel somewhat lost. Unsure which group I belonged to. To my Peace Corps friends? My American friends? Icelandic friends? Snorri Program friends?

I never met my great great grandmother. I didn’t grow up speaking Icelandic or sharing in Icelandic traditions. But much like how the people I’ve met in my travels have left a mark on me, Iceland undoubtedly left its mark on her. Shaped her. And shaped the lives of her descendants. It must have been hard for her too. Leaving Iceland as a small girl. Even if conditions were difficult in Iceland it couldn’t have been easy to uproot her entire life and move on. But it meant an opportunity for a better life, both for herself and for her family. And I’d imagine she too felt a lack of identity after moving to America. Not sure if she was Icelandic, American, or something else. Maybe that’s what draws so many of us Snorri participants back to Iceland. In search of this identity. Tracing our roots back in hopes of finding a hint of where we came from and where we belong. Most of us won’t have the opportunity to stay in Iceland that much longer. But that doesn’t mean Iceland hasn’t left its mark on us. And like our ancestors before us, we’ll keep roaming never quite having a home, but never being alone.

The Snorri Foundation is a non-profit organization that operates two programs: the Snorri Program & Snorri Plus. Co-operative partners are the Nordic Association and the Icelandic National League of Iceland. The Foundation also co-operates with the Snorri West Program which is operated by the INL of NA.

Our Programs all focus on the history of Icelandic settlers in North America. If you have Icelandic ancestors, if you are interested in the settlement history or just love to travel – the Snorri Program might be the one for you.

Icelandic Roots is a proud sponsor of The Snorri Program and Snorri West. Each year, we donate to individuals from Canada and from USA for scholarships and to the programs themselves to keep costs lower for participants and to make the programs better. We believe these programs keep the story alive for the generations to come. If you would like to make a donation for the Snorri Program through Icelandic Roots, an official 501c3, please send your tax-deductible donation online or by check. Your gift of any amount makes a big difference in the lives of these young people.

Have a wonderful day, everyone!


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