Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Leifur Eiríksson’s legacy honored through educational exchanges

This weekend Mary and I had the honor of participating in a dinner with the Board of the Leifur Eiríksson Foundation; we also met a group of outstanding American and Icelandic students who have benefitted from the Foundation’s scholarship program. The Foundation was established on the occasion that marked the millennium since Leifur Eiríksson’s voyage to Vínland (currently known as North America). The Icelandic Central Bank and the U.S. Congress partnered to mint silver coins to commemorate the event. Proceeds from the sale of those coins were used to establish the Leifur Eiríksson Foundation and its fund for educational exchanges. Since 2001, more than students from the United States and Iceland have received scholarships to attend each other’s universities to pursue graduate studies in a broad range of fields. While the sale of the coins provided the basis for this fund, its ongoing ability to expand its excellent work relies on the generosity of American and Icelandic individuals, organizations and corporations that believe in the power of educational exchange to change lives and build connections between our nations. This is another example of how deep and important the ties between our countries really are.