Monday, August 6, 2012

Never too old

My mother was a shining example of the saying, You're never too old to learn.

She was actually a shining example of many good things and I miss her terribly. But since her passing earlier this year, I am trying to use the lessons she taught me and the examples that remain with me of a life so well lived.

One of those lessons was to keep learning and trying new things. She did this all her life. An avid reader and CNN viewer, even in the care center where she spent her last year, she was up to date on world affairs and learned through books, listening and watching.  She could converse intelligently on any topic.

In the middle of her life, she had a thirst for learning that took her back to college. She studied occupational therapy; and then because she wanted to travel abroad, she took language courses at the University of Minnesota, studying Norwegian.

She ended up speaking it fluently and could easily converse with her older cousins in Denmark who did not speak English. She also enjoyed speaking Norwegian with her aunt and her friends in Norway and also friends in Sweden, since the languages are similar. Not exactly the same, but similar enough.

Danish American Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota
And so, I figure if my mother could learn another language in mid-life, I can do it, too.

Tonight is my very first Danish language class. Wish me luck.

I am told learning Danish is a bit more challenging than learning the other Scandinavian languages, but I am ready all the same.

The classes are offered at the wonderful Danish American Center, located in Minneapolis. Also referred to as Danebo, it is a center for Danish cultural exchange and is dedicated to the forwarding of anything Danish. It offers a wide variety of activities and events which focus on aspects of Danish living and culture, traditions, customs and history.

The Center sponsors a week-long resident folk camp at its Minneapolis campus where dancing and Danish crafts are taught. They also have a similar resident camp in a rural setting in Tyler, Minnesota called Danebod.

Danebod, Tyler, Minnesota

My mother attended the camp in Tyler for several years as a participant, and then from 1980 to 1983 as a Hardanger instructor, meeting some valuable lifelong friends and enjoying the traditional dancing and customs of her father's homeland.

I can hardly wait for tonight's class. Besides the thrill of just being immersed in an activity at the Danebo, my goal is to be able to understand all the Facebook posts from my Danish family. Although most of our generation and younger can speak English, it will be nice to be able to speak in their native tongue as well.

Well, I am a bit nervous about my own learning capabilities, but I'll keep you posted and let you know how it goes.

Maybe I'll start writing in Danish...