Exchange program trip features flurry of firsts



August 8, 2014 - 12:00 AM

There is a first time for everything.
Kolbyn Allen tackled a lot of first time adventures in one trip.
The recent Humboldt High School graduate took her first ever flight, on her first international trip to Norway.
The four-week stay was part of an International 4-H Youth Exchange program. Allen, along with a group of U.S. 4-H’ers, flew to Norway’s capital, Oslo.
“We spent a few days in Oslo and became familiar with our surroundings,” Allen said. “Norwegian 4-H’ers showed us around Vigeland Statue Park, a folk museum and we did shopping on the main street.”
After her time in Oslo she took a three-hour train ride to Arendal to meet her host family. At the train stop she was greeted with her surrogate dad, brother and a family friend.
“My ‘dad’ didn’t speak English at all and my host brother was 10 and spoke a little,” she said. “They were very friendly.”
Her host father was a tree farmer, her mother a paramedic and her host sister was 14.
Allen said the English barrier didn’t stand in the way. The family took her to her first concert at Hovefestivalen, a week-long music festival featuring artists like Ellie Goulding, Imagine Dragons and Foster the People.
The family stayed in a camper at the festival.
“After the festival my family took me to the Viking Market which is similar to the Renaissance Festival here,” she said.
She visited the Naes Ironworks museum, the second largest in Norway, to see how iron stoves are made.
One day she traveled Farup, an amusement park in Denmark.
“They thought their rides were really big but I told them how big roller coasters are in the United States,” Allen said. “They were really surprised.”
On her last day with her family, Allen final wish to experience the outdoors on a hike — came true. Her family’s home is surrounded by mountains.

ONCE her stay was over with her 4-H family, Allen took a 16-hour bus ride to Tatra Island in Northern Norway. She marked another first by staying in a tent as part of a 4-H camp.
A World War II buff, Allen toured a Holocaust prison camp.
“It was really interesting to see it in person,” she said.
The 4-H program in Norway differs slightly from the United States. There, the program is for youth ages 14 to 24.
And instead of doing multiple projects at a county fair, Norwegians work on one project. And unlike the American 4-H program, which operates year-round, Norway’s program runs only during the school year.
Allen interacted and learned from various Norwegian 4-H’ers.
She learned about many cultural differences. They have free health care, people go to school from ages 6 to 16 and then go to a specified college. Norway also has a midnight sun.
Allen said her trip would not have been possible if it wasn’t for people in Kansas.
“The trip cost $4,000 to go and I fund-raised all of it with the help of people in the community,” she said. “I owe them a big thank you.”
Allen will begin college at Kansas State University this fall and major in apparel marketing.

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