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Minnesota National Guard
Norwegian Home Guard officers visit St. Olaf College

Norwegian-founded St Olaf College in Northfield, Minn was visited by a group of about 20 Norwegian Home Guard officers and Minnesota National Guard Soldier escorts while taking part in an exchange trip on Feb 19

These Norwegian officers arrived in Minnesota a week prior to this visit, going to Camp Ripley, Minn before flying to Washington DC for two days to see the Norwegian Embassy, United States capital, along with other tourist attractions  Returning to Minnesota, the group took some time to visit St Olaf College

St Olaf seemed like a natural fit to be in this group's itinerary as it was founded by Norwegian pioneers in 1874 and still thrives on its Norwegian roots today
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"I think this is the first time we do this at St Olaf, and it is nice to come here to see the [Norwegian] flag waving and also the good history lessons we learned from Jeff and Solveig this morning," said Commodore Ketil Olsen, Norwegian Home Guard officer

The group began their visit to St Olaf with a tour of the college's archive of Norwegian-American historical documents

Jeff Sauve, St Olaf Associate Archivist, and Solveig Zempel, Professor of Norwegian, gave a presentation to the group in the college's Rolvaag Library managed by the Norwegian American Historical Association The group saw video of Norwegian soldiers training for World War II, historical letters of correspondence to and from Norway, and newspaper clippings of Norwegian-Americans

Along with the history lesson and a lunch with St Olaf staff and board of regents, they also toured the campus, focusing on the many buildings that were inspired by Norwegian architecture

"I would like maybe next year to come back," Olsen said "I think this is something that we should keep up and try to make a tradition"

The group of Norwegian soldiers came to Minnesota as part of a Norwegian exchange program that is conducted annually

"[The exchange] is not just about culture, of which there obviously is a lot of Norwegian heritage here in Minnesota, but also learning how we do business," said Lt. Col. Gregory Scofield, Minnesota National Guard International Affairs Officer

According to Olsen, there are about 115 Norwegian youth who are currently serving in the Home Guard visiting Camp Ripley, Minn and 103 Minnesota Soldiers in Norway for a two week period

"There are really some good benefits coming out of it from both sides," Olsen said, "so we really appreciate the opportunity"

Photos and story by Sgt Jodi Krause
Minnesota National Guard Public Affairs
19 Feb 2010

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