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Student writers wanted: Annual Viking Essay Contest allows young scribes to delve into Norwegian culture

This October, the Scandinavian East Coast Museum of Bay Ridge invites young writers across the borough to enter its annual Viking Essay Contest, held each year in honor of Leif Ericson.

“We’re trying to open it up to the community,” explained Victoria Hofmo, museum president, “so we went with a theme we think kids can really explore.”

This year’s essay topic is “Norwegian Traditions,” the very same theme adopted by the Norwegian Constitution Day Parade, held in May.

“We’ve changed it up so it’s in coordination with the Norwegian Day Parade,” said Hofmo, noting the culture’s presence in Bay Ridge for more than 400 years.

Encouraging aspiring writers to explore the Norwegian culture, Hofmo hopes it will inspire students to rediscover their own.

“We want to get kids thinking about their own traditions,” she said, “maybe get them to find something in common and tie it into the essay.”

Open to children in grades four through six, essay writers are expected to touch upon traditional Norwegian food, language, art or culture while incorporating their own writing style. All entries should be no more than two pages typed, while hand-written essays will also be accepted.

“We’ve got great prizes,” said Hofmo. Two winning writers will be chosen following the strict November 30 deadline. Prizes include a gift certificate to Nordic Delicacies, Viking Memorabilia and riding on a replica Viking Ship in the Norwegian Day Parade in May, 2014.

According to Hofmo, the incentive isn’t only in the reward.

“It’ great because if you’re not from the background, you get to learn about the background,” she said, “and of course, I think it’s good for developing writing skills.”

At the end of the day, it’s all about the talent.

“We’ve received some beautiful pieces,” raved Hofmo, “it’s incredible.”

Students interested in entering this year’s Viking Essay Contest can mail their entries to the Scandinavian East Coast Museum by deadline. Good luck, or as the Norwegians say, lykke til!

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