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The old manager's house in Godhavn and the Lyngmarksfjeld                                              © water colour by Ole Jacobi 1996
Sunday 11 August 1996

Today we have breakfast at 7.30. I'm on the cooking team and produce omelets. Heidi makes buns, and Jacobi cooks porridge. It's overcast this morning.

At 8.30 Margot and Pernille and seven others are going sailing on the "Porsild" with Sven to take bottom samples. They start out from the harbour.

At 10 there's a morning service at the church, and some of us have agreed to attend. The church is called "The Lord's inkpot" for some reason, it looks a bit like a Norwegian wooden church. The church is about half filled. The vicar, Otto Sandgreen, is 82, but he can still intone, and he does it beautifully, in Greenlandic. The psalms are also sung in Greenlandic, and we do our best to follow, syllable for syllable. The next-but-last psalm we recognize from the tune, one of the well-known Christmas psalms, in August - what an experience! The service ends with the organ playing a Russian folk tune which we know very well, but cannot put a name to.

After the service, Otto Sandgreen stands at the door, saying good-bye to everybody. He wears a ribbon of the Order of the Dannebrog on his cassock, and looks at us with eyes filled with joy and vitality. He asks me whether we are all from Denmark, and as I confirm it, he says that he's sorry not to have been informed beforehand, as he would then have held some of the service in Danish. But we came expressly to witness a Greenlandic service, so no harm is done.

At 1, I'm going out with the next team to the "Porsild" where Margot and Pernille and Sven are taking bottom samples. "Porsild" moors outside the Arctic Station and lowers a rubber dinghy with an outboard motor to fetch us from the Black Sands. With all aboard, it's full speed ahead, and just hang on for dear life. Jacobi is in the stem, getting soaked by the spray. Katerina gets a wet bottom, and I'm rather frightened by the speed.

On the "Porsild", they are very busy taking samples, putting the crew to hard work. Margot and Pernille collect the samples in small plastic bags. Katerina and I are the only ones not to have had lunch yet, so we sit down in the cabin to eat. At 3.30 we are put ashore again at Black Sands, and the next crew is sailed out in the dinghy.

For supper today we have cured saddle of pork with potatoes and carrots and peas in a white sauce.

At 8, there's a football match between our students and the local "old boys" in G44. It's to be played on the field in front of the Arctic Station. Arne is captain of reserves on our team, and there is a lively exchange of reserves. Three of our girls are playing: Mia, Lotte and Tina. As early as the beginning of the second half, Brian succeeds in hurting the Greenlandic goal keeper, Sofus, so much so that he has to be carried from the field. He is taken to the hospital by the local police car, but though it looks rather serious, all the Greenlanders are enjoying themselves hugely.

The fight ends with the score 4-3 to G44. The three Danish goals were scored by Torben, Lars Jon and Mikkel. Just as the game is ending, the wounded Sofus returns to the field. He has pulled a muscle, and has to sit with an icebag on his leg, grinning all over his face. We take photos of both teams. All the active students are sweaty and tired. They are very fit, and I'm struck dumb with the fact that they can manage two times 45 minutes of football after having walked all day!

The evening's program has been cancelled today.


Monday 12 August 1996

We have heard that the school starts today. On that occasion, there is a small ceremony at the church at 10. Accordingly, we all walk up towards the church after breakfast to see what's going on. On the way we meet some of the smaller children who are starting in the first grade today. They are all dressed in the national costume. The flags are up all over town, and we realize that it is a real day of celebration. As we reach the church, we see all the children with their parents and grandparents and their teachers entering the church.

Apparently they are going to have a new principal, because a small girl sitting down next to Arne, touching his arm carefully, asks him: "Are you our new principal?"

Then they start singing a Danish song in Greenlandic, and afterwards, the new principal, Kim Bach, steps forward and says a few words in Greenlandic. He goes on to welcome the children in Danish which is translated by the vice principal, sentence for sentence:

"Every year in August when the crowberries are ripe, when the midnight sun is no longer shining, when the street lights are turned on again for the first time after the summer, when the angelica stands nice and crisp, when the hunters go after the reindeer - then all the trout return to the river they know so well.

Like the trout, all of you, dear children, great and small, have been far and away all summer. Some of you very far away, and others quite close. You have all returned to the same river, Qeqertarssuup Kuua uttoqqatserpunga Atuarfia.

Here we will read, write, calculate, sing, speak foreign tongues and play together all the coming year. And we will all grow wiser than we were, that's what we will help each other with. We must look after each other , and after our school, so that Aeqertarsuup Atuarfia will be the best school in the country."

After having sung another song, everybody leaves the church.. The first grade children and their parents are asked to go to the school yard where a small portal of honour has been erected in front of the entrance to the school. The portal is decorated with beautiful Greenlandic flags, symbolizing the red midnight sun and the white ice. Then every child is called out before they enter through the portal with their teacher for their very first school day. They are dressed in their beautiful national costumes, but on their backs, they all carry a handsome new school bag in strong colours with images of Mickey Mouse or the like. Here the old and the new are confronted. Finally, the new principal must also pass through the portal which is so low that he has to bow down. This must be a first school day they will never forget!

I have to go shopping: 3 large trolleys full of foodstuff. All three quarters have run out of food after the week-end. It comes to 2310 Kroner altogether.

Arne has promised to show me the "chocolate factory" which turns out to be not at all as nice as it sounds, being the place where the municipality empties out the contents of the black plastic bags collected from all the toilets in town - directly into the sea by a long chute. The plastic bags are then burned. The shrimp factory also has its sewage discharge here. No wonder the water has an indeterminate colour, not to mention the smell!

Then we go down to the shrimp factory to buy 2 kgs of freshly shelled shrimps: 160 Kroner.

Home at the Arctic Station we eat lunch. The students are really busy with their projects. They sit around in groups, while others work hard in the field.

Supper today is boiled salmon with potatoes and lemon sauce.

The twins, Lars and Lotte, are 25 today, and Jacobi has promised to make American pancakes for all of us tonight.

We meet at the school at 8 where the program for tomorrow is introduced. Jacobi talks about tidewater. Lars and Lotte have made cinnamon buns which they share out, and we sing a birthday song in their honour.

Afterwards we all return to the Arctic Station and eat pancakes. They are very good, especially with Maple syrup.
 


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