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In Gjerset lecture, Peterson addresses children’s rights

Rachel Peterson ('04) gives the annual Knut Gjerset lecture.

Rachel Peterson ('04) gives the annual Knut Gjerset lecture.

Lily Kime ('19) | Chips

Lily Kime ('19) | Chips

Rachel Peterson ('04) gives the annual Knut Gjerset lecture.

Lily Kime, Staff Writer

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Rachel Peterson (‘04) gave a lecture on April 6 addressing family life in Norway, focusing on children’s rights. Approximately 140 people attended the lecture, which was this year’s installment of the annual Knut Gjerset lecture series.

In her lecture, titled “Barnets Beste: Growing Up in Norway” Peterson included her personal experiences with family life in Norway, where she lived for approximately nine years. During that time, Peterson worked at an organization called Save the Children Norway, which informed Norwegian children of their rights.

Peterson explained that Save the Children Norway emerged out of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), a human rights treaty. According to Peterson, Norway ratified this treaty and undergoes regular review of its children’s rights practices.

Part of the UNCRC includes the Norwegian government informing children of their rights. Peterson said Save the Children Norway plays a large part in this, as its members travel to schools to educate children on this subject. Peterson explained her appreciation for the opportunity to speak about her work at her alma mater.

“I feel so strongly about [children’s rights], so it is great for me to do some new research on children’s rights and what is happening in the field of children’s rights in Norway,” Peterson said. “[This lecture] prompted me to sort of refresh my knowledge, so that was great because it reminds me that I feel very passionately about it.”

The modern languages and Nordic studies departments invited Peterson to give this lecture. Assistant Professor of Scandinavian Studies Maren Johnson was a part of the committee that invited Peterson to speak.

“We decided as a group that we wanted to feature somebody that was a younger alum and had some involvement,” Johnson said. “We had had Rachel visit campus the year before, so we thought she would be a natural fit for this lecture.”

Visiting Instructor in Scandinavian Studies Kari Grønningsæter, a native Norwegian, recognized aspects of her culture in what Peterson described.

“It is always interesting to listen to a person who has lived in Norway long enough not to just look into it as a tourist, but as a person who has gotten to know the culture, has had experiences, and knows more than just the surface,” Grønningsæter said. “She’s really been a part of the culture for quite a while and that is always interesting to me because I hear things she says that I agree with.”

Peterson said that she wished to make this lecture more informative than persuasive because she did not want to encourage her audience members to place Norway on a pedestal. Attendee Steffenee Voigt (‘18) felt that Peterson achieved her goal.

“I really like Rachel’s energy because, personally, I have an interest in education and working with children, so I connected with her on that aspect,” Voigt said. “It was cool to learn about the organization she worked with because it is not something I’m familiar with. I want to learn more about it.”

The modern languages and Nordic studies departments are currently in the process of determining a lecturer for next year’s installment of the Knut Gjerset series.

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