Tuesday, June 25, 2013

June 23 & 24, 2013

Two days of whirlwind travel!

June 23: We drive to Evenes airport, outside Narvick, to board a flight to Oslo.

After arriving in the early afternoon, delegates take advantage of their free time to take in the sights. Some visit the sculpture garden, the folk life museum, and guided city tours. I visited the Edvard Munch Museum, which is home to many of his major works, including Scream.

An informal group of delegates ended the day with dinner and drinks at a relaxed neighborhood courtyard restaurant.

June 24: Delegates took advantage of a few hours of free time in Oslo before our mid-morning transport to the airport to return home.

As the delegation winded to a close, some delegates departed for personally-organized side trips to Germany, Sweden, and Ireland. Two more delegates departed to extend their stay in Iceland when we switch planes in Reykjavick.

After landing in Boston in the evening, remaining delegates from  the US, Canada, and Brazil left for further travel to their homes.

This was a great delegation; will let you know soon about plans for next year's very soon!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

June 22, 2013

A full day of activities occupied the delegation today. We began with a drive along stunning coastal roads to the Lofotr Viking Museum, a meticulously reconstructed chieftain's longhouse based on  archeological evidence at its location in the village of Borg.

At Restaurant Fiskekrogen in Henningsvaer, we meet Jan Mayer of Haarstadt University College for his lunch-time presentation on the Norwegian service system for people with intellectual disability. Dr. Mayer provided a great overview and graciously answered many questions.

Following a delicious lunch, the delegation visited the Lofoten Hus Gallery, which houses Norway's largest collection of north country painters and focuses on the work of Karl Erik Harr.

The day wrapped up with more breathtaking views and a visit to the Magic Ice Bar in Svolvaer.

Friday, June 21, 2013

June 21, 2013

Today the delegation traveled across Norway by land, sea, and air!

The day began with a flight from Trondheim to Bodo. Bodo is well above the Arctic Circle and quite lush although snow is visible on the surrounding mountains. Just outside the city, we visited the world's strongest malestrom (no ships were lost during our visit).

From Bodo we took a 3 hour ferry ride to Moskenes. The ferry negotiated outcroppings and sheer cliffs of granite that appear to just  shoot out of the sea. In the distance, a whale briefly kept us company.

After disembarking the ferry, we took a two hour motor coach ride along coastal roads with hairpin turns to our hotel in Svolvaer. Although we drove from 9-11pm, we had complete sunlight to enjoy the breathtaking scenery--it truly is the land of the midnight sun.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

June 20, 2013

Today's conference, "Living Conditions and Quality of Life," day two of the "Inherent Dignity, Equality, and Rights Conference," got off to a great start in Trondheim.

Jens Petter Gitlessen of the Norwegian Association for People with Developmental Disabilities provided welcoming remarks and I had the pleasure of providing an overview of AAIDD's activities dedicated to assuring that the  terminology and diagnostic criteria for "Intellectual Disability" in the DSM-5 and ICD-11 are consistent with contemporary practice and evidence.

Plenary addresses throughout the day by Julie Bradley- Brown, Amy Hewitt, and Jan Tossebro were very well received. Concurrent session speakers included Cathy Ficker Terrill (CQL) and representatives of the North Dakota and Minnesota UCEDDs: Mary Mercer, Neil Scharpe, Kristen Dean, Linda Maddened, and JoLynn Webster.

The conference ended on several high notes. First, The Dance Factory, a troupe of differently-bodied dancers, performed an original work. Finally, Karl Elling Ellingsen engaged all attendees in learning a Viking dance while he sang the first (of 97) verse of a Viking saga. He is the next Norwegian idol!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

June 19, 2013

Today was a travel day for the delegation. Luckily, all luggage has been reunited with members of our group, as we flew this morning from Oslo to Trondheim. What is about a one-hour flight would have been an 8 hour drive to get to the coast.

As we traveled by motorcoach to this port city from the airport, a guide provided a history of the region. The geography here is dramatically different from Oslo with rolling hills, lush treelines, and of course the coast.

Delegates had their first real free time this afternoon. Some visited the Nidaros Cathedral, others visited museums such as Rockheim (pop and rock) and Kunstmuseum (art).

Delegates came together for a traditional Norwegian dinner in the hotel restaurant overlooking a marina. Over coffee and desert, delegates shared their experiences of the city and discussed the agenda for day 2 of the "Inherent Dignity, Equality, and Rights Conference" tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

June 18, 2013

Day one of the Inherent Dignity, Equality, and Rights conference, "Human Rights and Rule of Law" was fascinating. Presenters from around the world presented on research, practice, and policy findings related to quality of life for people with intellectual disability.

A number of AAIDD members made excellent presentations today: Karl Elling Ellingsen (Norway), Ruth Stauer (Brazil), and from the US, Cathy Ficker Terrill, Michael Wehmeyer, and Brent Askvig.

An overview of the status of CRPD ratification around the world--and the implications--was provided by Oliver Lewis, Executive Director of the Mental Disability Advocacy Center (Hungary).

This conference, was organized by four universities, 3 from Norway and one from the US. Thank you to NAKU, University of Oslo, NTNU, and the NDCPD of Minot State University (North Dakota) for putting on such a valuable event.

The day ended for the delegation with a group dinner at the hotel featuring traditional Norwegian fare.   All but one piece of the delayed luggage has caught up with the group, and our hopes are high that it will be reunited with its owner before we fly to Trondheim tomorrow.

June 17, 2013

The delegation is sucessfully underway! All delegates ( although sadly not all their luggage) arrived in Oslo by late afternoon.

After a drink in the hotel's sky bar, which boasts a panoramic Vista of Oslo, we strolled to the opening event of the Inherent Dignity , Equality, and Rights conference at Oslo Town Hall.

To get to the hall, we pass the parliament building, a shopping district, and just see the royal palace.

At the town hall, which hosts the Nobel Peace Prize each December, the Mayor of Oslo warmly welcomed conference attendees.

We are treated to a special tour of the building by a very knowledgable guide, and get an up close look at it's fantastic art, including an Evard Munch.