Crossing the Ocean to Learn to Swim

The group of students gathered by an outdoor chessboard by …

The group of students gathered by an outdoor chessboard by Reykjavík Harbor. Photo/Contributed

Vala Hafstað

They had never seen a horse before and never learned to swim. For a group of 11-year-olds from villages in the eastern part of Greenland, a two-week visit to Iceland is quite a discovery.

They arrived in the country several days ago, along with teachers and other support staff, invited by Kalak, a partner association between Iceland and Greenland, reports. This is the 14 th year in a row that the association offers fifth graders from Greenland to come to Iceland to learn to swim and to get acquainted with Icelandic culture.


There are no swimming pools in the eastern part of Greenland, so a visit to Salalaug swimming pool in Kópavogur offers a brand new experience. There, they receive swimming lessons in between attending classes at Vatnsendaskóli grade school in Kópavogur. The project is supported by the Town of Kópavogur, the Ministry of Education and Air Iceland Connect.

The chess club Hrókurinn gave a party for the children on Sunday. For years, Hrókurinn has been active in teaching children from Greenland to play chess. The president of the chess club, Hrafn Jökulsson, is also a Kalak board member.


This week, a visit to Alþingi, the Icelandic parliament, is planned, as well as a visit to the Icelandic Football Association. The students are, moreover, invited to Bessastaðir, the presidential residence. They have already taken a tour of the Golden Circle, which includes visiting Gulfoss waterfall, Geysir and Þingvellir National Park.

Despite never having seen a horse before, they reportedly showed no signs of fear when they went horseback riding with Íslenski hesturinn stables.

Stefán Herbertsson, former head of Kalek, leads the organization of the visit.


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