where passion and passport meet

margit1She’s normally behind the lens of the camera. Taking the photos. Making the videos and films. Managing both the creative and the technical.

So as Zack, lead photographer for To Be Told, attempts to capture images of her for the website, it’s a bit of a reversal of roles. And it’s almost comical to see the young woman squirm and giggle as she ‘endures’ her moment in front of the camera.

 

Margit is an excellent baker. She is involved with other Norwegian youth in faith-related initiatives. She is an avid reader. She has a heart for helping.

She loves photography and film. Currently in her final year of videregående (upper secondary school), she is studying film-making, and preparing to begin university at a school in England this fall.

And she is already quite the world traveler.

She’s visited Congo, Thailand, Bulgaria, Tanzania, South Africa, and Singapore, just to name a few.

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‘Local Transportation’, Congo, © Margit Norøm

So what happens when you combine a passion for travel with all of those other talents and interests? You get a girl who travels, makes films, connects people with each other, lives out her convictions, and learns and grows along the way.

Many of Margit’s travels have been as part of a school or church group. With most of her journeys, her role is film maker. She documents culture, education, faces, nature, religion and much more. She uses these photos and videos for school projects and media contests. She also creates for organizations and promotional purposes. Sometimes the idea is to share information to raise awareness or support. Other times, it is to illustrate both the differences and similarities between cultures.

 

From a Western European Point of View

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‘Peekaboo!’, Congo, © Margit Norøm

Norway is known to be among the wealthiest countries in the world. Repeatedly ranked as one of the happiest country on the planet, the average Norwegian has everything they need, and typically more.

So what is it like for a young person from a land of plenty to step off of a plane into a place that is so drastically different from home?

Margit thinks about it, then explains, “it’s quite surreal. You read about differences. And you see the places in pictures. And you hear other people’s stories. But experiencing it yourself is quite different.”

The compassionate Norwegian teen speaks specifically about the difficult parts of the experiences.

“It breaks my heart that there are people that don’t get the proper education that they need or a proper home where they can feel loved and get the basics they need to have a good life.”

Margit found herself the most surprised and burdened during her time in Bulgaria. Perhaps it is because it’s a lot closer to home. Bulgaria and Norway are both located in Europe. And yet she was shocked to find the two countries so drastically stratified, economically and culturally.

 

Lessons Learned

In all of her travels, Margit has developed and progressed, as an individual, as a filmmaker, as a photographer, and as a Christian.

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‘Daily Chores’, Congo, © Margit Norøm

Generally speaking, one of the biggest lessons that she has learned is to be more grateful. Coming from a place where she has never really experienced material need, Margit has been touched by the attitudes and joy she sees in so many people she meets in these other countries.

She has met numerous individuals who lack much of what we might consider basic needs, and yet they are full of joy. They’ve found ways to overcome adversity, to find the silver lining in a seemingly helpless situation, to focus on the joy and minimize the hardship.

They’ve taught her to be grateful. They’ve also taught her to live with less, so that others might have just a bit more. Margit says she has found herself giving more money to charities and other groups than she did before her travels.

 

The Funny Side

Margit hanging out with her younger sister

Margit hanging out with her younger sister

There are countless stories that will break or melt your heart. But Margit has her share of funny things to share as well.

She laughs as we talk about food. She tells of the interesting things she’s been given to eat: grasshoppers, termites, snails, larva, frogs, and more. She managed to eat each item that was presented, although she admits the insects definitely made her uneasy. But the locals explained how they are a great source of protein. And Margit shared, with a smirk, “if you don’t think about the fact that it is an insect, then it’s okay. As long as you don’t die, it’s not a problem!”

She has only gotten sick once in all of her travels. And she is almost certain it was actually from some food she had brought with her from Norway. “So that is kind of the irony. Don’t bring Norwegian food to Congo!”

In addition to the funny food stories, she talks of children who wanted to touch her hair or her skin, saying they’d never met a white person before.

She also talks about her friends’ perception of her trips. Often their first reaction on her return is along the lines of ‘Oh, wow! You’re alive!’ And they, too, want to hear about the “gross” foods and the cultural differences.

But as the conversation continues, their attitudes and responses typically change as well. Gradually, they become increasingly interested in the people and their stories, and they begin to express a desire to connect with them and do something themselves.

 

Wanderlust

'Buddies', Bulgaria, © Margit Norøm

‘Buddies’, Bulgaria, © Margit Norøm

Like many of Margit’s friends, wanderlust lives inside many of us. What is wanderlust? It’s the intense desire to travel, to wander, to explore. And I can bet that the majority of our readers have experienced at least a taste of its magnetic allure.

So what does a person who has already experienced many lands and cultures have to say to those who want to feed that wanderlust? What does a girl like Margit share as advice?

Two simples words: DO IT. Margit is sure you won’t regret it. “Sure, it’s money that you won’t get back. But you get experiences and you get new perspectives on things and I think that’s worth more than money.”

She goes on to talk about how you’ll have the chance to learn and to grow, to challenge your definition of normal, and to see things in a new way. You’ll get a better understanding of who you are. You’ll be challenged to take risks and to try new things. You’ll meet amazing people. You’ll build new friendships.

I'D RATHER HAVEA PASSPORTFULLOF STAMPSShe admits her motivation for travel typically starts with curiosity for places she has not yet explored. She wants to see as much of the world as possible. But as she continues talking about the journeys and experiences, Margit shares, “for me, it’s also a good thing to see how God works in different countries and places, and I think I need that to be a better person.”

And she believes that any traveler will likely grow and learn when they step out and experience other cultures and get an idea of other people’s perspective on things.

 

Heroes

Heroes come in all shapes in sizes. And all ages as well.

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‘Schoolboy’, Congo, © Margit Norøm

Margit has encountered them in the faces of young children who help support their families while their parents are off working long hours, far from home. Children who fight the odds and work harder than hard to get an education. She talks of heroes when she speaks of a young African mother who trusts in God in the midst of the heartache of losing her baby.

Margit believes heroes exist when she meets the orphanage workers of these foreign countries. Workers who take orphans who once lived on the streets, and bring them in to a safer place, where they are raised and taught. Because those caretakers care. They want to give these children a better life.

And maybe – just maybe – heroes can also come in the form of a young woman in Norway, who uses her cameras to capture images and film. And who, in the process, uses her smiles, her generosity, and her love to brighten the lives of those she meets.

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