«Hearty welcome! » says Bjørn Nilsen, the head teacher at Brunstad Bible School. With his deep voice and resounding laugh, he fills the whole room and immediately gets the 300 or more-young people to listen attentively. Apart from the background murmur of translators into various languages, there’s hardly a sound to be heard.
Text: Johanne Reiersrud – Photo: Brian Noronha
It’s September, and a new school year has begun at the Brunstad Bible School. 280 students arrived in the course of August and have been accommodated in apartments around about on the school grounds. It is here that they will live for a year while they follow the school’s curriculum. The curriculum consists of in-depth bible instruction, as well as robust training in Norwegian culture and language.
Students pay attention to the teaching, which brings everyday life and theory together in an understandable way, and with a good portion of humour. Photo: BCC
The students who this year have come from around 30 countries, arrived to a lively school environment with good facilities and an extensive professional and social program. As a part of the school’s hands-on curriculum, they will also be along in planning and implementing BCC’s several annual events at Brunstad, and will be given the opportunity to volunteer alongside their schooling.
The lecture hall, school office, library and study center are just a stone’s throw from one another, and the school avails itself of both the natural surroundings and the beautiful outdoor facilities belonging to Oslofjord Convention Center. Here everything is set up for both Norwegian and foreign students to enjoy a fine coming together with the Norwegian nature, culture, bible knowledge and church life. The school has seven teachers who are responsible for instruction, while both employees and volunteers take responsibility for giving the young people a varied and productive leisure experience.
Different YEP-groups gathers for the evening’s teaching session, which many have looked forward to. Photo: BCC
Tonight, there is an extra excitement in the air, because everything has been prepared for the year’s first common lecture together with YEP participants from the youth program’s departments in Oslo and Hamar. This is the official start-up, and expectations have only risen in line with the chat and laughter from the young people, who tonight fill the entire lecture hall.
The YEP young people who have travelled from Oslo and Hamar are also participants in the youth exchange program, yet not daily participants at the Bible School. However, the Bible School offers such a good opportunity that they wanted to participate in it. Brunstad Bible School has accepted this request and have invited both groups to evening sessions with common lectures throughout the whole school year. Other YEP groups from both home and abroad, who have a long way to travel, can follow the lectures via livestreaming.
Bjørn Nilsen, head teacher at Brunstad Bibelskole, wishes everybody welcome. This year will be an exciting and different time for the students. Photo: BCC
First session hits the spot
The autumn semester begins with the theme «What is a human being? », and this is now the title for today’s lecture. – You who are sitting here have enormous possibilities in front of you, Bjørn says. He is masterful in building expectation around the themes, and captivates the young people with his simple language and stories from every-day life. – Looked at from a point of view of physics, a human being consists of 99% water, in addition to several billion nerve cells and approximately 5 million strands of hair – not me of course – but you, – and he laughs together with everyone in the hall. – Converted into carbon, a human being weighs just as much as two bags of charcoal, so a human being’s worth has nothing to do with the physical side.
– This is relevant to my personal life
– The teachers here are really involved, it’s not like listening to a normal lecture, says Mathilde Ødegård from Molde. – I look forward very much to the rest of the year, because I want to find out more about this. When I have chosen what I want to study, I will be learning something useful, just for my professional life. But what we hear here, I know I will be thankful for all my life, not just in connection with my work. What I have heard and learnt up until now, only gives me a desire to learn as much as I can for the rest of the school year, she concludes.
Wants the students to get a solid foundation in order to make their own choices
– The purpose of these subjects is to give the student a good grounding in core themes relating to the church’s bible understanding, such that each one receives a solid foundation with which they can make their own good choices in their personal life, Bjørn Nilsen tells us, following the next lecture. – The pupils have been given reading material up-front so they can prepare themselves. All in all, they will be going through eight themes in the course of the year, in addition to knowledge of the church’s core literature and stories about biblical characters. The fact that they also get to live together in the boarding school and do different kinds of practical work together, has a positive effect on them. In the course of such a year I have seen so many develop, taking more responsibility and becoming more reflective, but also becoming less egocentric young people, he concludes with a smile.
Bjørn Nilsen hopes the young students will recieve a good grounding in core themes relating to the church’s bible understanding this year. Photo: BCC.
For the group from Oslo, the evening is no disappointment. – We will be coming back next week and look forward even more, now that we got a taste tonight of what we’ll be learning, says Laurence from Holland, Mia from Denmark, Julie and Rune from Norway, before they head off to the car waiting for them outside.
According to Laurence, Julie, Mia og Rune, who drove from Oslo for the night, it was all worth it. Photo: BCC
Translation to multiple languages during the teaching session, here Chinese. Photo: BCC