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Icelandic Roots Philanthropy: The Snorri Programs - Part 1

Each year Icelandic Roots supports the Snorri Programs in multiple ways. One way is through individual scholarships to participants.

Since 2015 we've awarded 22 scholarships for individuals participating in the Snorri Program, a six-week summer cultural trip for youth (18-28) who are interested in learning more about their Icelandic heritage and ancestry. 

We have also given grants for the education portion of the Snorri Program, sponsored online marketing campaigns, as well as provided training and free access to the database for participants in all 4 programs plus the alumni internship. Icelandic Roots was also been instrumental in creating the new Snorri Deaf program, both in terms of people power and finances.

(To learn more about the Snorri Programs, you can visit their website here.)

We asked some of the past scholarship recipients to share a short review of their Snorri Experiences. Here is Part 1 of their responses.

Foreground: Amber Drake standing on a mossy hillside in Iceland. Background: Gullfoss, waterfall in Iceland.
Amber Drake at Gullfoss



I want to thank Icelandic Roots for helping me make the pilgrimage to Iceland. My Snorri experience was THE best experience of my entire life, and I hold it very close to my heart. My trip to Iceland was very monumental for my family. I was the first in my family to go back to Iceland in over 60 years, and making the family connections I did is priceless. I can't thank Icelandic Roots enough for making this dream a reality!

Shelby Byron standing on platform to one side of Seljalandsfoss, waterfall in Iceland
Shelby Byron at Seljalandsfoss


Hello! My name is Shelby Byron and I am from Mountain, North Dakota. I am 18 years old and was a participant in the 2019 Snorri Program. Growing up in Mountain I have always attended the big Deuce of August celebration and just recently started attending the Þorrablót. I have been surrounded my entire life with all things Icelandic and to visit Iceland this past summer was a dream come true for me.

To me, being an Icelander in America is about connecting to our roots over in Iceland. It is so exciting for me to be able to tell my young cousins and little brother about Iceland and where we came from. To tell them about the trolls and the land with both fire and ice. I hope that one day they can follow in my footsteps with the Snorri Program to continue keeping our Icelandic Heritage alive.

While in Iceland I was able to learn so much, not only about Iceland and the culture, but about the world and myself. I saw and experienced so many things that would only be possible through the Snorri program. I gained so many new friends from all over the world. None of this would have been possible for me if it wasn’t for my cousin Sunna or the Icelandic Roots team. Not only did they help me find my family in Iceland but because of the Scholarship they granted me, I was able to live out my dreams of going to Iceland. I could talk about my Snorri trip for hours, but I know I need to keep this short. Thank you again from the bottom of my heart to everyone that made this experience possible for me. I am so excited to continue digging into my roots in Iceland and to hopefully return to Iceland one day.

Kjersten Gaminek wearing a ditsty floral long skirt, pale pink long sleeve sweater with knot at front, and brown sun hat. She is standing in the middle of the road Skólavörðustígur, in Reykjavík Iceland, with Hallgríms Church in the background.
Kjersten Gaminek



My name is Kjersten Gaminek, I am 21 years old and am from Winnipeg, Manitoba. I am a student at the Canadian Mennonite University where I study arts and humanities, and I work part time at a local bakery as well. I currently act as the president of the Snorri Alumni Association, where I strive to create close relationships with past Snorri participants.

I spent the summers of my childhood visiting langamma mín in Gimli and attending Íslendingadagurinn. Those memories are surrounded by warmth and happiness. I get that same feeling when I hear an Icelandic word, indulge in pönnukökur, or receive a message from one of my Icelandic cousins. Being Icelandic is a great part of my identity. To be Icelandic is to be proud of my heritage, to be friendly, to be active, and to cherish my family.

My participation in the Snorri Program has changed my life. I am yearning to experience the greatness of this past summer all over again. The Snorri Program taught me the value of personal connections and gave me immense amounts of joy whilst being abroad. I’ve had friends and family members comment on how I haven’t been the same Kjersten since returning from my travels, and I truly feel it is because I belong in Iceland. For the first time in my life I felt the true feeling of what home should feel like.

I would like to say thank you from the bottom of my heart to Icelandic Roots who gifted me a gracious scholarship so I could participate in the Snorri Program. If it wasn’t for the help of Icelandic Roots, I wouldn’t have gotten the incredible experience that I did. Participating in the Snorri Program was hands down the best six weeks of my life, and I would highly recommend any Western-Icelander to apply to the program.

Stay tune for Part 2 later this week.


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

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