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A mother and her daughter exit a gate on a rainy May day at Óðinn's preschool, Grænaborg. He graduated yesterday in an official ceremony, complete with being called up to receive a diploma and rose, and to shake hands with the wonderful people who have been caring for him daytimes for the past four years. They're like family, and the safety and security of such a small school will be much missed.

But we grow and get older and change happens in our lives whether we like it or not. For a kid who just turned six this transition - from a cozy preschool campus to Austurbæjarskóli with its rich 82-year history, hundreds of students (many with families who have recently immigrated here) and geothermally-heated indoor swimming pool - is a huge deal. Never mind that the two schools are less than quarter mile apart, on either side of Hallgrímskirkja. This is as dramatic as an intercontinental relocation!

His father and I considered private schools, but ultimately I'm really glad that our boy will be attending an urban campus only yards away from our home, that encourages multicultural education without that drive to total assimilation into Icelandic society that has been such pressing and often destructive force here. (I often tell people that even though I am a 'pure-bred' I still choose to speak Business American on the phone when dealing with companies or banks or anything money related -- basically when people only hear me with my accent I seem to get much worse service! If I show up in person, though, and speak my Icelandic [which is admittedly a totally unique language ;] all is fine: I look Icelandic [whatever that means these days!] and am forgiven my less-than-perfect conjugations. *Not cool!*)

When Iceland opened itself up in the 80's to becoming an active part of the global capitalist conversation, allowing an influx of foreign goods and services to dilute the cultural 'purity' and isolationism of the previous centuries, it effectively gave up the ability to control the rampant growth and often destructive effects of consumerism. The foreign-born talent and labor that has followed in the wake of globalization, and especially the children of these immigrants, simply cannot be denied the same opportunities and rights as the 'pure-breds' whose ancestors have clung to this lava rock for over a millennia now.  A human is a human is a human, and we're all in this Life on Earth thing together. I'm happy that Óðinn will continue to get the chance to meet kids from all over the world at school, and grow from that experience : )

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Othon said...

People from all countries are more sensitive to these ideas now. Here in Brazil we live in a multicultural society for a long time, but we always had problems that I seem to be resolved ... good winds. Good luck to Óðinn.

Björn Hansson said...

Nice and interesting post again - as always!

Really enjoy to follow life in Iceland - I really need to visit Iceland a fourth time soon!

Iceland Eyes said...

Takk, Björn! And Othon, you are absolutely right. It's all a work in progress, right?
: )