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Creating Lifelong Friendships Through Icelandic Roots

Updated: Jan 15, 2020

Icelandic Roots has a large and varied community. Our volunteers live in Iceland, USA, Canada, and Australia. Today, we share some insight into a very special person on our team. Please read about Bryndís in the following Volunteer Spotlight!

What prompted you to volunteer with Icelandic Roots?

I was granted a scholarship to the University of Northern Iowa when I was a young person. That entire year was a life changing experience. I was surrounded by good, knowledgeable and caring people, the kind of people who made America great and have kept it great. At the end of the academic year two of my professors invited me on a trip cross country and showed me the wonders of your beautiful country. I believe one is not the same person after having gone on a mule back into the Grand Canyon, stood by the giant Sequoias and breathed their scent or walked in the petrified forest.

These experiences and a thousand more were mine because there were people who cared to bring young people over to North America to share their culture and spirit. Twice again I was given scholarships to study in your country that lead to teaching many years at the Perkins School for the Blind in Boston. There my professional character was molded. None of this would have happened without the generosity of the good people of your country who invited me – and many more- to your country.

When I began to hear about Sunna, and learned about her passionate idealism and all the fine and capable people working towards realizing the ideals of the same nature as I have described above, I simply knew I wished to be part of this team. When I learned about the Icelandic Language scholarships and the scholarships and support to the Snorri programs that IR is giving. I realized that IR is building a bridge between Iceland and North America, facilitating the connection between Icelanders on both sides of the Atlantic.

What is your favorite aspect of this program?

The main goal of the IR is connecting people of Icelandic descent in N-America (and other parts of the world) and their relatives in Iceland. I think this is a most interesting and noble goal. What the volunteer team members of IR do with the revenue of the database is most commendable.

The revenue goes to scholarships to students learning Icelandic in N-America or to young people of Icelandic descent wanting to study Icelandic in Iceland. When you are a young person studying, getting a stipend may make the difference. The Snorri programs are also being supported by the IR. That support may make the difference for some of the young people wishing to become a Snorri and the new Snorri Deaf Program.

What advice would you give others who are seeking to research and preserve family history?

I would advise them to become a supporting member of the IR Database to find their family story. Having made the connection, the next step would be to contact your relatives for a further connection and hopefully cultivating friendship and ties to your newfound relatives.

Furthermore, I would advise people to share with the IR team such information they have about their families who emigrated. Thus, the data base becomes more meaningful to you yourself, your relatives, and in fact everyone else.

Finally, I would like to say to those who might be reading this: If you have found the family you didn't know about until you found it on, do tell others. Tell people about this wonderful data base, spread the good news!


This photo depicts a common site. In a warm and cozy Reykjavík home, you will find various groups of people meeting with Bryndís around her table. It is always filled to overflowing with delicious food, wonderful smiles, laughter, and boundless ideas. There are always various people at this table, who soon become friends, working with a passion as volunteers. Whether it is "Children's Emigration Stories," new exhibits, programs, teaching, connections, and much more. The atmosphere is positive and uplifting. Here we are, brainstorming about ideas for Snorri Deaf and how we can improve the lives of others, strengthen education, and keep the connections strong.

Bryndís is a retired teacher. She leads by example and a dedication to high quality work, collaboration, and education. She is a great leader. The entire team at Icelandic Roots thanks her for her friendship, kindness, support, translating documents and letters, teaching Icelandic, promoting the work of IR, writing news articles, and the positive influence she has throughout our volunteer organization.

Icelandic Roots is not just for genealogy. There is so much more. One of the best is creating these lifelong friendships. Thanks, Bryndís!

Are you interested in volunteering with Icelandic Roots? We’d love to have you join us! There is something for everyone! Please let us know:

Email us your questions or join the conversation on our Facebook Group.

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