Scandanavian club opens to students

Sara Welch

Local club allows students admission to create awareness

The pre-existing Scandinavian-American Club of Kent opened its doors to Kent State students last semester and held its first meeting earlier this month.

“The club’s members were getting too old; I felt we needed new blood,” said Heidrun Hultgren, the Scandinavian-American Club president.

Scandinavian culture has been incredibly neglected, said Hultgren, associate professor in the art department. She puts Scandinavian artwork into her syllabus every semester because it has been underrepresented in most art history courses. The page of Scandinavian artwork that has been included in the art history textbook was added only because Hultgren requested it.

“I want to make this club and culture more visible,” she said. “In order to keep this heritage alive, it’s important to have young people involved.”

Hultgren opened the club up to her students and the university last semester to get younger people involved and gain a larger following. She hopes an increased interest in Scandinavian culture will keep long forgotten traditions alive.

The club only meets during semesters, and the meetings include presentations given by members about Scandinavian experiences and history, Hultgren said. The club is not limited to students of Scandinavian heritage; it is open to anyone interested in the traditions and history.

“We want to make the rest of the world aware there is a Scandinavia,” Hultgren said.

The club’s goal is to make more people aware of the Scandinavian influence that still exists today.

“Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland are beautiful countries that people should go see,” Hultgren said. Greater interest in this culture will make people more likely to visit Scandinavia and learn about a part of Europe that has been overlooked, Hultgren said.

“People know about France, Germany and Italy but not about Scandinavia,” Hultgren said.

Hultgren said she hopes the club will eventually create an interest in student exchange programs as membership grows and the club gains a greater following from outside organizations. Kent State is lacking opportunities for Scandinavian experiences, and exchange programs are currently too expensive, she said.

The types of programs being promoted would benefit the students traveling to and from Scandinavia, Hultgren said. Scandinavian students coming to Kent State to study would bring their culture with them. The best way to learn about other people is to spend time with them, Hultgren said.

“To truly open up the Scandinavian culture, the best thing would be for people to go there and see it,” she said.

The club will be hosting a puppet play at 7:30 p.m. today at the Kent Free Library.

Contact ethnic affairs reporter Sara Welch at [email protected].