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Kultur Hus teaches children lessons of Norwegian heritage

Jane Norman, right, shows Lilly Black, 9, of Superior, Iowa, how to tat Monday during the Norwegian sommerskole at Kultur Hus in Sunburg. Norman and her sister, Ann Black, teach Norwegian heritage crafts, language, dance, music and food during the weeklong classes for children. Tribune photo by Carolyn Lange

Scandinavian roots grow strong and deep and can travel great distances. Even to New Jersey and Texas. Proof of that was evident during the fourth annual "sommerskole" that began Monday at Kultur Hus in Sunburg.

The summer school for children, where all things Norwegian are taught in the small town that prides itself in its Norwegian heritage, includes students from far outside the Norwegian beltway of west central Minnesota.

This year there are students from Texas, California, Iowa and New Jersey.

"I think it's kind of important to know where we come from," said Adam Fenton, 14, who lives in Temecula, Calif.

As he concentrated on learning the tricky heritage craft of tatting, Fenton said his mother has Scandinavian roots that bring the family to Minnesota for summers on Norway Lake. This year he's spending part of his summer vacation at the Kultur Hus in Sunburg learning how to speak a bit of Norwegian, make lefse, hear folk tales, listen to music and do a folk dance that's all part of the sommerskole curriculum.

Edward Taketomo, 12, also spends his summers on Norway Lake, far from his New Jersey home.

As other students struggled to make the proper loops and knots with the thread to make a tatted circle, Taketomo quickly mastered the art.

Jonathon Nelson, 11, from Corpus Christi, Texas and Marty Stenson, 11, from Golden Valley struggled to get the hang of the craft but eventually completed a circle. Two sisters from Iowa were helping each other out.

During the three-hour morning session, just two of the eight students were from the Sunburg area.

But all the children have family or community ties and Scandinavian roots that brought them to the sommerskole, said Ann Black, who along with her sister Jane Norman, offers classes year round to people of all ages at the Kultur Hus. The week-long sommerskole is just for kids.

Local children are also taking advantage of the classes.

Black said the afternoon session has students with last names of Berge, Rudningen and Thonvold -- Scandinavian roots that are still deep and strong but much closer to home.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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