Remembering their ancestors in Iceland
The group stopped at Bustarfell in Vopnafjörður, but there Olafsson-Furstenau can trace her ancestry. The farm is an old style turf farm and is well kept.
“Good morning,” says a happy voice when a journalist from the Morgunblaðið newspaper calls to the Unites States – to the Midwest to be precise.
The happy voice belongs to Sunna Pamel Darlene Olafsson-Furstenau, who led a group of Western Icelanders who made their way to Iceland this autumn to experience their roots, which they are strongly connected to.
The trip began with a reception by First Lady of Iceland Eliza Reed at Bessastaðir. “It was a wonderful trip and we had a great time,” Olafsson-Furstenau says.
After the reception, people were taken to the ring road to enjoy the Icelandic nature and culture, but things went differently than planned.
“We had to shorten our trip. After a two-day stop at Egilsstaðir, we were taken to Akureyri, but when we got there, five people were seriously ill. After a covid test, it turned out that the whole group, 25 people, had managed to catch the virus and were ill. Therefore, a date with Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir and Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Bjarni Benediktsson, which was to be the finale of the trip, had to be cancelled. “It was disappointing,” she says.
The trip to Iceland started with a reception at the President's resident, Bessastaðir, where the first lady, Eliza Reid, welcomed the guests.
Olafsson-Furstenau heads the Icelandic Roots organisation, which has the role of strenghtening relations with the old mother country with a wide range of activities, both education and entertainment.
The trip was a success in the beginning and the group stopped at ports around Iceland, where the western Icelanders went to find their luck in a new country. Trees were donated that will be planted here and monuments were built to remind them of the past and their heritage.
Education and Leisure
The people who made their way to the country were of all ages, and there were even young people who are very interested in Iceland. About twenty people are under thirty in the organisation.
“That’s pretty good! The purpose of the trip was to educate people about Iceland.”
No guide was involved, as the travellers were more well read in all things Icelandic and even more knowledgeable about the country and people than the driver, who knew a lot and shared his experiences. “On the bus they told tales of legends, including trolls and ghosts, and recounted the history of the country and its people.”
Icelandic Roots maintains a database of the number of people who left Iceland for the West where people can trace their ancestry to the country. There are currently nearly 800 thousand people outside of Iceland who can trace their ancestry to those who left the country in search of new adventures.