I had some plans and goals before coming here, wanted to fulfill at least one, but ...all my expectations were surpassed.
Ukraine Disability participant


The motto of this project was a quote from President Obama: "Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time." 

Over the course of two years four delegations of U.S. students traveled to Norway for three-week programs. Thirty-six students and four teachers each from Amherst and Northampton, Massachusetts high schools spent time at Jessheim, Lillestrom, and Mailand High Schools (Videregående Skole) outside of Oslo.  Living with the families of counterpart students, they studied the global effects of climate change and developed plans to combat it, presenting these plans to staff at the U.S. Embassy in Norway before returning home.

Funding for the programs in Norway was provided by the Youth Programs Division, Bureau for Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State.  Our project also enjoyed the strong support of the U.S. Embassy and Fulbright Commission in Norway.

The State Department goals for us were:

  • To promote mutual understanding between the people of the United States and Norway.
  • To prepare American youth to become leaders, responsible citizens, and contributing members to their communities.
  • To spark an interest among American youth in Norway and other foreign cultures.
  • To play a role in developing a cadre of young Americans who are able to engage in effective cross-cultural and international dialogue.
  • To increase understanding of environmental issues and policies.

ITD set an additional goal: To build youth participants' advocacy skills, and to motivate them to use these in the environmental field.

Since our grant did not cover it, ITD invited the Norwegian schools to look for their own funding to send a Norwegian contingent to the U.S. to make the exchange reciprocal.  The Norwegian schools were so enthused by the project that they were able to raise funding for four trips to the U.S.  The end result was that 160 American and Norwegian students and teachers traveled on this exchange program!
Here are some comments that American participants sent us some time after the programs in Norway:

"...the exchange remains the single most influential event in my life. It encouraged me to think and care about events that are bigger than myself. It inspired me to become more articulate. Because of my time in Norway, I'm a better person..."

"...the Norway trip completely changed my life! I have a much broader perspective of cultural diversity. I have also gained a very large appreciation for reaching out and gaining knowledge about other areas of the world."

"The Norway program was an extraordinary experience for [my daughter].  She has grown and matured so much as a person during the past few years that it's impossible to say how much any one experience has influenced her. However, I will say that her self confidence, her awareness of the world in which we live, her understanding of the impact our lifestyle choices have on our planet -- these have all grown tremendously as a result (I believe) of her participation in the Norway program."

" Right now I work as a tutor of environmental science to an Amherst home-school student. It is great to discuss the earth, and how humans impact it, with a young and curious mind. I know I am not making a huge difference to the Amherst community, but it somehow still feels like I am helping in my own way to educate and inspire. Doing a larger-scale project for the environment is something I truly hope lies ahead for me."

"Going to Norway two years ago definitely impacted my life profoundly. Before the trip I had an slight idea that I would like to learn more about environmental issues, but after the trip I realized I want to devote my life to this. I therefore plan on majoring in Chemistry with an Environmental Studies concentration. I think I would like to have a carear in perhaps land conservation or something of the sort. Exposing myself to another country made me realize just how big and diverse the world is and made me want to protect that."

"I am happy to tell you that many of our NHS students who went to Norway in February are going on to college and studying Environmental Science/Policy!  Norway and ITD was a catalyst for this!"

"The trip to Norway also sparked my interest in earth sciences. Since the trip, I have been involved in research at the UMass Geosciences department and have worked for the US Fish and Wildlife. I am also the recipient of the Henry David Thoreau Foundation Scholarship for college. The trip to Norway laid the foundation for my subsequent work on the earth and environmental sciences. The experiences that ITD has enabled for me, helped alter the way I view this world as a global citizen. I am joining Cornell University in the fall and hope to combine my interests in the environmental sciences with policy. I am a proud ITD alum..."