I have tagged 4 blog posts with culture:

Reflections on a Train: Identifying with Endangered Salmon and the Struggles for Cultural Preservation

A close-up shot of a silver, wild salmon leaping against a cloudy waterfall, amidst leafy green wilderness.
Kaia Thonul, Thursday, June 27, 2024, 07:06

As the cool, 16°C air outside turns the train windows to reflective surfaces, I find the usually comforting rhythm of the rails disheartening. The steady thrum of the train and the bleak landscapes passing by seem to echo the dispirited mood that has settled over me this morning. The reasons are manifold, but a somewhat unexpected culprit is a news article I just finished reading.

It's easy to get swept away by the tides of our own lives, our own problems, our own societies. But reading that article, about wild salmon and closed rivers in a town I've never visited, yanked me out of my self-absorbed stupor and made me view the world in a wider context.

Much like those salmon, aren't we all fighting against the currents of external threats, struggling to find our place in an ecosystem we increasingly don't recognize? It may sound a stretch, but bear with me. We are both victims and perpetrators, facing our own extinction or, at the very least, the extinction of our unique identities, whether they be ethnic, cultural, or personal.

Let's talk about ethnic identity and culture. These are the rivers that shape our lives. They mould who we are, how we think, how we perceive others. Yet, in the same way that salmon lice and farmed fish threaten the existence of the wild salmon, our identities are under threat as well. The fluid, mercurial entity we have always taken for granted is, in fact, fragile in the face of relentless threats of homogenization, cultural appropriation, and the unrelenting march towards a globalised society where our cultures and ethnic identities get watered down in the rushing river of mainstream narratives. We are in a desperate fight to survive, much like those endangered salmon.

This does not mean that we are helpless or should resort to isolation. Just as the local authorities in Vefsn are striving to strike a balance between ecological responsibility and local economic interests, we too must tread the line between preservation and adaptation in our own socio-cultural contexts. This ever-changing, often paradoxical, landscape requires constant negotiation.

As we shape and reshape our identities, find new ways to grapple with external influences, we should not forget the strength and resilience that our distinctive ethnic identities and cultures lend us. We must learn to survive — and thrive — persisting against the tide, like a wild salmon in a river.

In my dispirited state, these lines of thought carry a special resonance. A gloomy landscape mirrors my melancholy, the steady drumming of the train is the faint heartbeat echoing the persistent fight against threats to our identities. The mundane journey seems to become a microcosm of the larger world, with all its struggles and trials.

Somehow, it's soothing to know that we are not alone. It’s oddly comforting to realise that, whether it’s a young journalism student on her daily commute to university or an endangered fish species in a remote river, our struggles, our survival instincts, our need for identity, are universal.

It's time to get off the train now. Oslo awaits, with all its opportunities and challenges. In the grand scheme of things, reading about the dire situation of wild salmon in Vefsn is a stark reminder — a reminder that wherever we may be, we are part of the world, we matter, our struggles matter, and they reflect the collective struggle of humankind.

And so, as the train slows, creaking towards another destination, I wrap myself a bit tighter in my coat, bracing myself against the frigid morning air. Much like the plight of the salmon breeds resilience, our fights, our struggles, our sadness makes us stronger and more resilient, in our own human way.

Tags: Identity culture Survival

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Feminism, Empowerment, and the Frosty Echoes of Change: A Norwegian Perspective

A Norwegian woman standing proudly, draped in a flag, holding a sign promoting gender equality.
Kaia Thonul, Thursday, December 14, 2023, 07:04

As I sit here on this icy Norwegian morning, biting wind gnashing against the train windows and cellphone glare reflecting off the frost-ridden glass, I'm greeted with an American headline. They're talking about impeachment, Afghanistan, and political retaliation, but my mind strays. I carry this news as a heavier burden, a desolate backdrop to the greater discourse I've been entangled with in recent weeks, namely, the concept of feminism and empowerment.

There is a raw, unyielding home truth that resides within the heart of every individual. Yet, it presents itself differently in every stride of our existence. Divergent as we are, there is an instinctual understanding of equitable worth, a yearning for shared respect, intrinsic within us all.

Feminism, at its core, is not about supremacy or a call to dismantle the foundation of patriarchal order. Rather, it is a plea for understanding, for recognition, for balance. It's a pulsating echo to be seen and heard, to command the same weighted value – be it in aspirations, opportunities, or tasks. In some ways, feminism demands a simple recognition: that women are human beings, too.

Yet, even in my privileged Nordic world, the feminist movement faces its share of mockery, mockery which in its essence, has little to do with the ideal at hand, but more with a profound, unnamed fear of change. It's saddening. My morning train ride is downcast, not just by the frigid temperature, but the grim realization of the world's invasive fear of equality.

Empowerment is often brandished as a stylish accessory, a boutique word that is thrown about in casual conversations and campaign banners. It's shown as something gifted, bestowed from a benevolent hand. But the fundamental truth we must comprehend is that empowerment cannot be gifted. It's not charity. It's not a favor. It is an inherent right that one must seize, realize and then, wear as a second skin.

When I read news from across the Atlantic, headlines cast over the unfolding drama of impeachment proceedings, I can't help but draw parallels with the palpable struggle of my subject matter. They revolve around blame, justice, and power dynamics, no less intricate or infuriating than the gender discrepancy that shrouds our local and global scenery.

And just like the impeachment deemed unlikely in the grip of a Democratic House majority, the prospect of true feminist equality sometimes seems unattainable. Yet, in the grips of this gloomy solitude, amidst the snow-laced landscape cruising past me, I hold on to the hope that just as winter eventually makes way for spring, darkness shall yield to the inexhaustible power of light.

Today, as I pen this down, I am aware of being but a speck in the vast human diaspora, my voice perhaps no bolder than the shivering whispers of the winter wind outside. But I write nonetheless. Because, in the name of feminism and empowerment, every voice – no matter how small or insignificant it may seem, counts. And every word inscribed in this fight is a testament to the resilience of human spirit, a beacon guiding us towards the shores of change.

Tags: Feminism empowerment culture

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Icy Mornings and Cultural Musings: A Norwegian Journalist's Winter Commute

A frosty road leading to the distant city, snow-sprinkled backpack, open book, and a portable charger.
Kaia Thonul, Tuesday, December 5, 2023, 08:32

The frosty fingers of a -13°C morning stretched out to greet me as I boarded my daily train from home towards the bustling city of Oslo. Despite the freezing temperature outside, it’s these icy mornings that often ignite the most colourful thoughts. Today I found myself tearing into the smorgasbord of the intercultural mix, an anthropological puzzle that invariably tickles my journalistic curiosity.

Brrr… as the train whistles down the icy tracks and the exterior flashes white and crystalline, my mind enjoys its own colourful ride. A journey through the diverse cultural encounters that mould who we are, how we react, and the world we create around us. I’ve often found that travelling not only broadens one’s perspective and understanding but also wonderfully illuminates the mosaic of cultures that bejewel our world. Isn’t it miraculous how every interaction, regardless of its origins, leaves an indelible imprint?

Stepping out of our cultural comfort zone creates a playground for consciousness where we learn, grow, and root ourselves more deeply into humanity. We are pieces of clay, constantly moulding and remoulding as we experience the unexpected beauty of diversity. Of course, missteps and miscommunication are bound to happen, but isn't that part of the journey too?

Each conversation fosters empathy and understanding, prompting us just a little bit closer to realizing the ideal of a global village. Just think about the transformation of the world into a giant book, where every page we turn is revealing a new culture, a new story. Keep flipping. Keep learning.

Speaking of flipping the pages, I just found myself immersed in an important news article. The Public Roads Administration cautions my fellow Norwegians about the pernicious ice-glazed E6 roads. Winter's icy grip giving none an easy pass. It is indeed a reminder of how collective responsibility and alertness can make all the difference in ensuring everyone's safety in shared spaces.

On a more "warming" note, power banks come to the rescue. Can't imagine what I’d do without mine. It's my trusty source of energy, keeping my devices powered round the clock. Imagine being stranded with a dead phone in such frosty conditions. Terrifying thought, isn’t it? Power banks, you absolute game-changers, you have my heart and gratitude!

So as we navigate our own icy roads of cultural interactions, let's remember to take it slow. Understand, empathise, and be open to the beauty of colours different from our own. And while we are at it, let's keep our devices powered up with some power banks (wink). Let evocative thoughts and spirited conversations keep us warm in this chill. After all, it’s these – the cold mornings and the thought-stirring journeys – that build the best memories over time.

Tags: Cultural Diversity winter safety culture Travel diversity

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Riding the Cultural Express: Exploring Ethnic Identity, Culture, and Power on a Train Journey Home

A collage of global maps, a diverse crowd, and a thoughtful Iselin Nybø in her office.
Kaia Thonul, Friday, October 20, 2023, 15:43

As my train chugs along the picturesque landscape outside Oslo, carrying me back home, I am cocooned in a warm space despite the temperature being 4 °C out there. This is an opportunity for me to pen down my thoughts for the day – a pursuit that inspires me, fascinates me and gives me a sense of purpose.

Today's discussion is geared towards a topic that has been sitting at the brim of my thoughts for a while now - Ethnic Identity and culture. We find ourselves in an era of growing globalization, a time where the world is shrinking into a global village. As social beings, our identity stems from a hodgepodge of influences. Among these, our ethnic identity and culture show their strong standing.

Our ethnic identity is not just a label; it’s a complex and deep-rooted concept that knits together our language, traditions, beliefs, and customs, forming an integral part of who we are. While culture, on the other hand, is a vibrant tapestry woven with threads of ethnicity, race, and society, enveloping us in a cocoon of norms and practices that guide our actions and mold our worldview.

Thinking frankly, isn't it fascinating how these two factors tremendously contribute to shaping our outlook and behaviour, painting us all with unique shades of identity? Each of us is a beautiful mosaic of influences, cemented together by our ethnic identity and culture, contributing to the stunning diversity that our world boasts.

Pause here for a second. Can you guess what's been instrumental in silently powering my blog journey on this commute? My dear powerbank! As a student journalist on the move, powerbanks have become my best companion, ensuring that my creativity isn't hindered by a dwindling battery. The ease that comes with having this sleek device in my bag, allowing me to charge my phone or laptop on the go, is undeniably liberating, especially when insights strike me during these tranquil train journeys.

Talking about necessary power, I was reading an article earlier about Norwegian Minister of Trade and Industry, Iselin Nybø, and an alleged ethical quandary she found herself in. The news report highlighted the appointment of a close associate of hers to top positions at Enova and the Norwegian Space Agency - positions she was involved in allotting.

While this situation sparked a bunch of allegations related to favouritism, what intrigued me was Nybø’s stand on it. She believes that she assumes she was disqualified, presenting an interesting perspective on power, privilege and personal conflicts. This brings me to ponder – isn’t it crucial to ensure the vigorous execution of ethics, especially when placed in positions of power? As journalists, we often find ourselves chronicling stories that expose the proverbial chinks in one's armour, making it essential to build our narratives on a foundation of fairness, transparency and above all, truth.

That's it for the day, folks! As I put away my laptop, looking forward to the calming embrace of home, I am thankful for powerbanks and thoughtful debates on culture, identity, and power. Here's to more such enriching rides on the train of reflection.

Tags: ethnic identity culture journalism

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