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Friday, August 14, 2009

AN OPEN LETTER TO THE PEOPLE OF THE FAROE ISLANDS

I’ve returned home after spending ten days in your country. I was there basically as your guest. My objective was to see the G! Festival and Ólavsøka and collect as much audio and video as I could for my podcast and other projects.
I knew I would see some spectacular landscapes and hear some great music, and my expectations were met or exceeded at nearly every turn. But I’m not sure I was prepared for the openness and kindness shown to me, a complete stranger in your country.
For a week and a half, you humored my stupid questions, tried not to roll your eyes as I locked car doors out of habit, and suppressed your smirks as I tentatively nibbled on my first bites of whale meat. You invited me into your homes to eat. You sat me down and told me stories of the recent past when there was no TV or radio in the Faroes. You played me your music in private concerts and massive sing-alongs. You told me about the sagas and legends that make up your history. You let me take part in some of your oldest traditions and were patient as I tried to master the steps of one of the simplest folk dances in the world. You made me feel at home even though I was on a tiny set of islands 8,000 miles from where I live.

In short, you were kind to me. And I was deeply moved by that kindness.
While you gave so much to me, you only asked one thing in return: you wanted to know why I was interested in your country and what I thought of it now that I was there.
I found the second question a bit odd at first. Who cares what I think? I’m just some guy. But then I remembered that I’m a loyal subscriber to The Economist because I’m interested in how foreigners view America. So perhaps an outsider is sometimes useful to help someone see something familiar in a new way.
With that in mind, I guess I should answer your question: what did I think of your country?
As you can probably already tell, I think it’s amazing. I think the geography is perhaps the most beautiful in the world, and the people are friendly in a way I’ve never seen anywhere else. And the pace of life there is something unique in the developed world. You have more time to talk to your friends and neighbors, more time to stop and notice how the colors on the mountains have changed now that the sun has changed positions, more time to think.
I’m sure you take these things pretty much for granted, just as everyone takes the good things about their home for granted. And I’m sure there are things about your home that drive you insane: the small size that can produce a claustrophobic feeling, the lack of big city zing. That’s understandable, but please never forget that you live in one of the most unique and distinct places on Earth. In a world that’s becoming more and more homogenized, you’ve found a way to engage the outside while still preserving what’s important to you: your language, history, and traditions.
I’ve been home from the Faroes for about two weeks now, and I’m still processing all I saw and heard while I was there. But let me at least say “thank you” to those of you who made me feel so welcome and so at home. I will never forget this experience.
Takk fyri. I hope we meet again soon, be it on your shores or on mine.

--Matt

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5 Comments:

At 1:59 am, Blogger Abba in the Faroes said...

The Faroes truly is a magical place in a world struggling to find meaning and purpose ... and the time to watch the sunlight play on the ocean and the mountaintop ... and share the momemt with a friend or a total stranger ... in harmony with the moment ... may you soon return

 
At 11:43 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thats really beautiful to read..love the bit about the car doors! Same on Scottish islands! Sad about whale meat tho.
annie

 
At 12:03 am, Anonymous Sarah DeMars said...

Very well written... lovely... funny too as I believed I had an, as you said "unhealthy obsession with the Faroe Islands"... and I've actually never even been... lucky you... thanks for the vicarious experience! Cheers! Sarah DeMars, Santa Barbara, CA

 
At 1:20 pm, Blogger devin said...

nice work. dreams come true, workman, dreams come true!

 
At 7:15 pm, Blogger Elindomiel said...

Lovely post! Have you had Journalism training, or does it just come naturally to you?

 

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