Lithuanians are the second largest ethnic minority in Norway, according to an article in pasauliolietuvis.lt. The Lithuanian embassy in Oslo has statistics showing that there are ten Lithuanian communities in Norway, 11 other organizations such as clubs and artistic ensembles, and 14 Lithuanian language schools.
Daina Bogdanienė, who immigrated to Norway nearly 30 years ago, writes that the Lithuanian community in Vestfold, in southern Norway, is particularly active, and was awarded by the Lithuanian embassy in Norway for its popular events. Other than events at Christmas, the two Independence Days, Shrove Tuesday, Easter, July 6 and Lithuanian school performances, the community also organizes charity projects such as care parcels for Ukraine, as well as nursing homes and schools in Lithuania.
Vestfold Lithuanians, who number about 100, have a website and two Facebook groups reflecting their many celebrations and activities. The author writes that the moving force behind the community consists of three women: Aldona Hansen, Vaida Zebra, and Jurgita Jurevičienė.
This year, the Vestfold Lithuanian community established by Aldona Hansen, who has lived there for 20 years, will celebrate its 10th anniversary. She first went to Norway from Kaunas in 2001 as part of a cooperative project, later engaged in summer work, and several years after that decided to move there permanently, bringing her children to live with her in 2005. She works as a teacher in Sandefjord, helping children adapt to the Norwegian school system. Some Lithuanians are not happy with Norwegian schools, which allow children more freedom and nurture their confidence and individual growth, concentrating on academics in high school.
The most popular Lithuanian event organized in Vestfold is St. John’s Day – Joninės, which attracts up to 800 Lithuanians from local communities. They often invite groups from Lithuania to perform at their events, where about 45 volunteers prepare food and drink to sell to their many guests who enjoy Lithuanian activities.
The Vestfold Lithuanian school Gandriukas has six teachers, two assistants and 65 pupils. Some parents travel 50 km to bring their children to school every second Saturday. During lessons, the parents listen to lectures, discuss various issues and upcoming events. Most are active members of the Vestfold Lithuanian community. The school receives no funding from the government, so parents pay for supplies, rent and teachers’ salaries, with assistance from the community’s profit from various events. Thanks to its energetic leadership, the school is the community’s greatest achievement.