“Heidi Sand-Hart’s “Home Keeps Moving” authenticates the TCK experience. Her personal stories demonstrate the tangible reality of the TCK theories we have been reading and hearing about for years.” – Tina L Quick, author of The Global Nomad's Guide to University Transition

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

A nation on its knees...

It is extremely strange to be in one of my "home countries" during a terrorist attack. I was in China during the 7/7 London bombings, in Thailand during the Mumbai attacks and have neven been anywhere near Finland during the recent shootings. 

My father is Norwegian and as a child, I spent many a happy summer in Norway, visiting relatives and enjoying the freedom and safety it brought. My parents would allow us to explore the forests, fields, lakes and islands without a single thought for our safety for this nation is known for its peace and tranquility.

That all changed on the 22nd July 2011. I was in Oslo for the week - visiting friends and family. I received a phone call from a friend at 15:32 on Friday afternoon saying, "Stay calm, but there has been a bomb in Oslo. There is broken glass everywhere and people bleeding on the streets..." I was of course shaken and the first thing I did was call my brother to make sure he was alright. He said he heard the bomb and felt the vibrations in his apartment. I jumped on Twitter and began to panic as the story unfolded in all its entirety and I realised just how big the explosion was. Colossal buildings were shelled, windows for a mile radius had been shattered. 

I was alone at a friend's apartment about 2 km away from the centre of town but heard the police sirens and helicopters stream to the bomb site. I was shaken and didn't like being alone at such a time. I called my husband in London and parents in Finland to let them know I was alright...at that point, they hadn't even heard since the event was so fresh. The police told people to stay away from the centre of Oslo but I wanted to be with my brother, with family.

I headed into town, taking the backstreets as my brother advised me to do, and was vigilant, trusting no one. I made it safely to his place and sat around the kitchen table where we watched and listened as the horror unfolded. The story broke of a shooting at an island an hour away, as we were all coming to terms with the bombing. My brother heard that his friend was out on Utoya, teaching the kids guitar, at the very camp that the shootings were occurring. He tried to phone his friend but was quickly told NOT to phone him since they were hiding from the gunman and the phone ring would lead him straight to them. With shock, we sat around, drinking beers and trying to comprehend what was happening on our doorstep...but the full horror was yet to come as the truth emerged the following morning...

I have never felt particularly connected to Norway as a "home country". It has been the one that I have struggled with the most in my TCK make-up. Partially because it was nothing more than a summer holiday destination to me growing up and also because of the difficulty I faced as a sixteen year old trying to break into a somewhat closed society*. But how could one's heart not break, weep and mourn over the events of the twin terror attack on this peaceful, beautiful nation? As I was glued to the television (along with the other 4 1/2 million people of Norway), watching the prime minister, foreign secretary and King address the nation, I could not believe how well spoken and calm they were. And as the past few days have shown, the dignity, strength and solidarity of the Norwegian people is something incredible and unique - definitely something to take lessons from. At this darkest of hours (the darkest since WW2), Norwegians have shown phenomenal calm, respect and unity in the face of terror and it makes me proud to have Norwegian blood flowing through my veins...

*as described in more detail in "Home Keeps Moving", by Heidi Sand-Hart

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