Monday, August 27, 2012

Deep connections between Iceland and the U.S.

I was invited to speak at the annual meeting of the Iceland National League. This organization is composed of Icelanders and Americans and Canadians of Icelandic descent who are dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Iceland’s heritage and its contributions to North America. This group embodies the deepest connection between Iceland and the United States and their mission is as noble as it is enriching. For readers in Iceland, I would recommend making an effort to attend a presentation titled “The Love of Iceland in America” which Pam Olafson Furstenau is making throughout Iceland in the coming days. Pam is an American of Icelandic descent who has captured beautifully the meaning of being Icelandic-American. Her blog at has all the information about upcoming presentations as well as her impressions of her latest trip to Iceland.

Friday, August 24, 2012

American scientist partners with Hólar University College to conduct fisheries study

Last year, we welcomed Fulbright scholar Catherine Chambers from the University of Alaska Fairbanks to Iceland to conduct a study on the social dimensions of fisheries. Her work was so well received that Hólar University College asked her stay to continue her research through the Blönduós Academic Center and assess the differences and implications of different fisheries management systems. Some of the questions Catherine would like to answer include: Can a truly sustainable fishery be good for fish and bad for fishing livelihoods? How do different management schemes affect’s people’s abilities to access resources and engage in culturally and historically important livelihoods? Aside from her academic background in anthropology, marine biology, and economics, Catherine brings experience as crew on fishing vessels in Alaska. This is another example of the partnerships and trust that typifies relations between American and Icelandic educational institutions.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

American support for Keilir’s programs

We welcomed James Gentry, an environmental scientist from the United States Environmental Protection Agency, who will be spending a few weeks at Keilir to assist in the development of collaborative relationships between Keilir and American universities and small businesses. The thrust of the initiative is to open doors of the American scientific community so that Keilir can expand its research activities in collaboration with U.S. counterparts. We are especially pleased to witness Keilir’s growth and to support its effort to strengthen its academic programs. We have a commitment to support the Reykjanes peninsula’s efforts to increase educational opportunities and employment

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

American Jazz in Iceland

We always look forward to the Reykjavik Jazz Festival as it brings a broad range of performers and composers of America’s best known art form: Jazz. Last night we attended Deborah Davis’s wonderful concert at Kaldalón in Harpa and were immediately absorbed by her cheerful personality and fantastic voice. Her interpretations of Abbey Lincoln’s “When There is Love” and her poem ‘The Kiss’ were indeed memorable. We look forward to the performance by Jim Black´s ‘Alas No Axis,’ Ari Bragi Kárason´s collaboration with New York´s "Melismetiq," Jack Magnet´s performance that features American guitarist Paul Brown, the tribute to the music of American Jazz pianist Lennie Tristano, the 17- piece brass ‘What Cheer? Brigade’ from Providence, Rhode Island, Quintett Scott McLemore’s concert, the homage to Glenn Miller’s music, and the performance by American guitarist Bill Frisell. You can find the time and location of these performances at:

Monday, August 20, 2012

Sharing and IFTAR dinner with the Muslim community in Iceland

We were honored to host the leadership of the Muslim community in Iceland at our residence to share an Iftar dinner. We invited members of the Association of Muslims, the Islamic Cultural Center of Iceland, and representatives from the National Church, the Ministry of the Interior, and the City of Reykjavik to share an evening meal to break the fast observed by Muslims around the world during the holy month of Ramadan. We also used the opportunity to welcome and introduce two recently arrived members of the U.S. Embassy community who were also observing Ramadan. It was a pleasant evening of sharing and reflection.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Young Icelander wins U.S. contest

I had the pleasure of presenting to 11-year-old Ólina Helga Sverrirsdottir a certificate and two gifts as the middle school winner of the Alice Challenge--a program designed to encourage young people between the 3rd and 8th grades to surf safely online. As the winner, Ólina used the software program “Alice” to develop an animated video to encourage safe online surfing. Ólina’s video is posted on the website. The Alice Challenge program is a partnership between the FBI and Carnegie Mellon University.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Visit to the Islamic Cultural Center

At the invitation of the Islamic Cultural Center, I visited their facilities in Reykjavík. The Center has been operating since 2009 with the objective of providing the Muslim community in Iceland a place for gathering, reflection, and prayer and a place to welcome all Icelanders interested in learning about Islam. I had the opportunity to hear from the Center’s leadership about their plans and aspirations as members of Icelandic society. I look forward to hosting members of the Center and of the Muslim Association of Iceland for an Iftar dinner next week. This traditional dinner, held during the Ramadan holiday, is an opportunity for reflection and for fellowship.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Curiosity – a triumph for science, humanity, and the future

Image: AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes
It is hard not to be caught by the whirlwind of excitement caused by the safe landing of Curiosity on the surface of Mars. Many of us dreaded the “seven minutes of terror” when there was no communication with the vessel as it made its way to the surface. Curiosity will explore a large area and will travel quite a bit in an attempt to collect samples and conduct experiments that attempt to answer whether the building blocks of life exist on that planet. The landing is a triumph for scientists the world over, for NASA, and man’s quest for knowledge.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

American-Icelandic designer in Iceland earns prestigious recognition

Chuck Mack, an American-Icelandic designer living and creating designs in Iceland, just signed a contract with Design House Stockholm - a prestigious and widely recognized product development company. Chuck has been working with Iceland’s Design Center for some years and has participated in Iceland’s premier event Design March. I met Chuck early in my tenure and was impressed with his designs and tenacity. His partnership with the Design Center is bringing recognition to American – Icelandic cooperation in the design field.