Informants for the Snorri Program
Genealogy and family ties have always been very, very important to the Icelanders and those of Icelandic descent. The Snorri Program, established in 1999 as a cooperative assignment between the Icelandic National Leagues in North America and of Iceland, is aimed at young people (ages 18-25+) of Icelandic descent living in Canada and the United States. Interestingly, there is another program, Snorri West, where participants from Iceland are sponsored to visit Canada and the United States to connect with their family in “the west”.
For participants who take advantage of the program, it is an opportunity for them not only to discover Iceland, its culture, and the language of their ancestors, but most importantly to create or strengthen bonds with relatives living in Iceland. The Snorri Program runs for six weeks each summer beginning in mid-June until the end of July. Fourteen to 16 young people participate every year. To date, some 100 young people have participated in the program, including Christine McNaughton and Daniel Hallett. McNaughton took part in the program in 2002 at age 22 and Hallett in 2001.
When applying to the program, applicants have to give as much of their family history as they know. Then, the program office in Reykjavik checks applicants against the country’s genealogy database where lineages are traced back to 800 A.D. Participants are then matched with their Icelandic family. Participants spend the first two weeks of the program in cultural studies learning about Icelandic history and culture and learning a little of the Icelandic language. For the next three weeks, the group separates and each participant spends time with his/her family members. During the last week, the participants re-join and spend the time traveling around the country. It is a program specifically aimed at enlightening and strengthening family bonds.