Presidential Reception for New Icelanders

Forsetaembættið. New Icelanders welcomed at presidential residence Bessastaðir

President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson and First Lady Eliza Reid hosted a reception yesterday for all those who had received Icelandic citizenship this year. The couple were both present at the event to welcome the group of new Icelanders and congratulate them on their newly-acquired rights and responsibilities as Icelandic citizens. It was the first time such a reception has been held by Iceland’s president.

In his speech to the group, Guðni emphasised the importance of healthy patriotism and defining Icelandic nationality with broad-mindedness, tolerance, diversity, freedom, solidarity, compassion, and empathy. The First Lady echoed his sentiments, while also addressing the challenges of learning the Icelandic language, which takes time.

The idea for the reception came from Eliza, who is an immigrant to Iceland herself. “When I became an Icelandic citizen in 2008 I was notified by a form letter in the mail,” the First Lady wrote on social media. “I thought it was a big deal, a moment to celebrate! But the letter didn’t necessarily indicate that Iceland thought it was a big deal that I was now among their ranks. So it has long been a dream of mine that we would be able to recognize and formally welcome new citizens in some way. It underscores to new Icelanders the importance and responsibility of citizenship, while reminding those of us ‘older’ Icelanders that we too have obligations to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to contribute fully to society and help to make it a richer nation for all of us.”

Guðni is not running for re-election in Iceland’s ongoing presidential race. Eliza stated that while she will not have influence in the matter in future years, she hopes the welcoming tradition continues.

A Widening Island – How Iceland’s Publishing is Embracing a Diversifying Society

Iceland’s immigrant population is growing. Today, over 10% of the country’s population is foreign-born, and that number continues to increase each year. It’s no surprise that Iceland is currently experiencing an influx of new culture, activities, and literature alongside its diversifying population. Part of this change are the inevitable challenges of adjustment and assimilation to a new reality – both on the part of the immigrants who must learn Icelandic and settle into their new home, as well as on the part of native-born Icelanders who are witnessing firsthand a shift in society as it comes to open its doors in new ways. For writers, these challenges extend to a lack of publishing opportunities in the country, as well as issues of underrepresentation.

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