Monday, April 29, 2013
The mood was festive with many voters wearing their Sunday best—a reflection of the respect that Icelanders have for democracy. Pundits and columnists will interpret and parse the results many different ways in the days to come but the one thing I suspect all agree on is that democracy is thriving in Iceland and that is a lesson that should not be lost.
Friday, April 26, 2013
Our Embassy organized a chili cook- off and a pie baking contest. I joined Árni Sigfússon (Mayor of Reykjanesbær), Jói Fel (a famous Icelandic Chef), and Friðrik Sigurðsson (Special judge from Food and Fun) in judging the entries. While it was quite difficult picking the winners after trying fifteen pie and seven chili entries, we were amazed at the range of tastes and textures of the participating entries. Congratulations to the winners and all the participants. We were also very pleased to see the line-up of participants who wanted to have their pictures taken with President Obama. Icelandic and American culture make a very nice match.
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
We were delighted that Guðbrandur Benediktsson, Head of Public Programs, and historians Sigurður Ingólfsson and Guðrún Birna Ólafsdóttir joined us for the event. The weather was not most welcoming, but the silver lining is that the rain will help the new trees grow. Special thanks to Gróðrastöðin Mörk for having donated the trees.
Monday, April 22, 2013
Thursday, April 18, 2013
The letters were written in response to an open letter by several clergymen urging Dr. King to stop his protests and to seek redress through the courts. Reading and listening to the readings gave participants a glimpse into the thinking of a great man whose vision and leadership launched the civil rights movement in the United States. It was also an opportunity to reflect on Dr. King’s legacy to humanity.
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
The schools held an event at the Commercial College (Verslunnarskólinn) where several hundred high school and university students attended information sessions and asked many questions about the schools. At the end of the day, every participant from the United States told me how impressed they were with the quality of the Icelandic students and their interest in the United States. I also had the opportunity to meet a group of MBA students from the Harvard Business School who were visiting Iceland to explore its accomplishments in the renewable energy field. We met during a briefing by Carbon Recycling International-a world leader in the production of renewable methanol from carbon dioxide.
Monday, April 15, 2013
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
About a year ago, I learned that Iceland was one of the locations where the futuristic film “Oblivion” would be filmed in the summer. Under a pretty tight shroud of secrecy, I visited one of the filming locations where a crew was building an amazing set in the Icelandic mountains near the road to Sprengisandur. It was a desolate yet beautiful landscape and certainly an unlikely place to find the remains of a world renowned landmark, but this is Hollywood and the movie is about a cataclysmic war on planet earth. Later in the summer, we had a good number of actors and members of the crew attend our 4th of July reception to celebrate our independence. It was great to meet them and to learn about the magic that Hollywood creates.
Friday, April 5, 2013
I had the pleasure of attending the opening of the exhibit “From a Culture of Violence to a Culture of Peace" organized by the Icelandic Chapter of Soka Gakkai International (SGI)—a Buddhist organization with over 12 million lay members worldwide. SGI is dedicated to the abolition of nuclear weapons, the promotion of peace, culture, and education. We were honored to be invited and very pleased to represent President Obama who is firmly committed to moving towards a nuclear free world. Living in Iceland, one comes to expect to come across many, many individuals fiercely committed to peace and fostering understanding between people. After all, this is where a major summit took place. I might add that the performance by Selma Bjornsdottir was moving and fitting for the occasion.
Monday, April 1, 2013
We were delighted to welcome Vanessa to the Residence in her quest to raise funds for the Girls Scouts. She brought 100 lbs (over 45 kg.) worth of Girl Scout cookies to Iceland and sold every box almost immediately. It was great to have the opportunity of participating in a longstanding family tradition of buying Girl Scout cookies each year. Vanessa deserves much credit for her entrepreneurship.