Latest News in 2011

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February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
October 2010

August 2010
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February 2010

We are always looking for interesting stories to add to the monthly ASF Newsletter!
If you have any Scandinavia-related news/events stories that we can add to our monthly newsletter, please submit your written content and pictures to Susanne Nagy via email


We would like to know if we could find a few volunteers from our membership as the Board performs many tasks. We would love to have your help!

We would also like help with publishing our newsletter, This task can be broken down into several tasks to share so no one is stuck with full responsibility.

Would you like to write Birthday Cards and get well cards to members?

Would you be willing to call on other Scandinavian friends to become members?


» Annual Santa Lucia Pageant and ASF Holiday Party
» Letter from ASF member Courtlin Stoker writing from Zurich and India 
» October: A busy “Scandinavian” month
» YOUKER, Elizabeth - May 1, 1911 - Aug. 18, 2011
» Letter from ASF member Courtlin Stoker writing from  the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
» ASFSB Honors Two Centenarians
» A story about Flat Stanley by Lilli Tragoss
» ASF Summer Picnic review by Heidi Poley
» Three Santa Barbara area students have received ASF scholarships
» Long time member Ruthie Johnson has moved to be near her family
» Fastelavn Memories
» Young Viking Courtlin Stoker Visits Human Rights Conference
» Congratulations to ASF Member Karina Jougla for Receiving Girls Incorporated Lucile Miller Wright Scholarship


Annual Santa Lucia Pageant and ASF Holiday Party

Matilda Dahlin

The Annual Santa Lucia Pageant and ASF Holiday Party took place on December 4 at the Holiday Inn in Goleta, and was well attended by members and guests. The Social Hour and Silent Auction, as usual, kept everyone busy until the tempting buffet dinner was ready.

The highlight of the evening was the Santa Lucia procession led by lovely Matilda Dahlin, daughter of members Hans and Helena Dahlin. Helena added a striking note of authenticity by wearing her Norwegian bunad, and Matilda‘s crown held flaming candles.. The costumed girls and star boys of all ages was one of the largest in recent pageants.

Many thanks to all the dedicated members who help each year to make this event both a fund raising and social event to remember.

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Letter from ASF member Courtlin Stoker writing from Zurich and India
By Courtlin Stoker


From Zurich

Dear ASF Members,
My travels have been amazing so far. I leave for India on Friday. My time in the mountains was great. The first week it seemed more like survival camp then volunteer work but we got a lot done. In my second week volunteering we had perfect weather and it seemed like 4-star living :) At the end of both weeks it was amazing to see what we accomplished and what a small group of people can do. Well, hope all is well in Santa Barbara. I'm heading into Monsoon season in India.

Best, Courtlin


From India


Dear ASF Members,
I have just finished my volunteer work in Piyali (a small village outside Kolkata). I took the train everyday with the local teachers. It was fun & quite an experience. I even managed to wear a sari two of the days. :) My volunteer work was amazing. I loved teaching the Kindergarten class. They loved hoki poki, head shoulders, and me reading, "Mr. Brown can moo, can you?". I am now excited for the Durga Puja. Four days of worshiping the goddess of life (Durga). Millions of people are coming to Kolkata. I will take a lot of pictures. Hope all is well at ASF.

Love, Courtlin

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By Einar Hovind

  Norway's King Harald and Queen Sonja, pictured in 2010. Kings and queens from across Scandinavia, joined by the presidents of Iceland and Finland, will join in a royal get-together in New York Oct 21, 2011.

October turned out to be a very active month for the Scandinavian community, both locally and nationally. As a starter, the Leif Erikson Day on October 11 was recognized and celebrated in many places, including nearby Buellton where over 80 Sons of Norway members from several state in the southwest were gathered for a 6th District annual get-together (Kretsstevne). The Leif Erikson Day was observed in recognition of the Viking explorer from Iceland who is considered to be the first European to establish a colony, however temporary, in North America. The date also happens to be three days before Columbus Day, October 12. Surprise?

Next, please note that Chris Wagstaffe, the son of Raymond and Jacqueline Wagstaffe in Solvang (among our newest ASFSB members) has had a leading role in Henrik Ibsen’s dramatic masterpiece: Peer Gynt at Westmont. During October15-23 this world-famous Norwegian play was co-produced by the Lit Moon Theatre Company and Westmont Festival Theatre with Chris as the young Peer Gynt in the first of the two-part play. Chris is a Westmont student majoring in Theatre-Arts and is to be congratulated for his outstanding performance as Peer Gynt. It should also be noted that his brother Daniel was awarded one of the ASFSB Scholarships in 2010. He is an electric engineering student at Cal Poly.

Another outstanding event is taking place at the Elverhøj Museum in Solvang this month. On October 28 the distinguished guest speaker, Poul Houe (PhD), will present works by the famous Danish author, Hans Christian Andersen titled “The California Poetry“. Dr. Houe is a professor in Scandinavian Literature at the University of Minnesota. Details about the program can be found in a recently distributed flyer by ASFSB.

Finally, the Scandinavian Royalty invaded USA this month! Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark, King Harald and Queen Sonja of Norway, and King Carl XVl Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden attended the American Scandinavian Foundation’s Centennial Ball in New York on October 21. Also attending this very special 100 year celebration of ASF were our own ASFSB President: Ellen Zissler and her husband Jim, thus adding a special touch to all the “Skandi” events in October!

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YOUKER, Elizabeth - May 1, 1911 - Aug. 18, 2011

We are saddened by the passing of long time ASF member Elizabeth Youker, who  recently  celebrated her  100th birthday. She was unable to attend the ASF celebration she shared with Christine Groppe on July 17, due to ill health. ASF sends sincere condolences  to daughter Claudia Taden and other family members,  and  we shall long remember and appreciate Elizabeth's support and interest in ASF.  

This is Elizabeth Youker's obituary from the Santa Barbara News-Press:

100 years old, passed away peacefully into the arms of her Heavenly Father on August 18th. She was the fifth of nine children born to Benedikta Svensson Schacht and Herman Schacht in the Midwest in the days of unpaved streets and horse and buggy. She married Claude Youker in 1937, a loving, devoted husband of 52 years, and was the mother of three children, Claudia Elizabeth Taden of Santa Barbara, Suzanne Claar (Lynn) of Colorado and Claude Warren Youker III (Laurie) of Oregon.

Elizabeth devoted her entire life to loving and raising her three children ensuring they received a quality education, Girls Scouts and Boy Scouts, classical ballet lessons, numerous cultural and social experiences as well as travel throughout the United States and the world. She was a beautiful lady in every respect with a kind, gentle soul.

She moved to Santa Barbara in 1986 and was a devoted member of the First United Methodist Church for 25 years. She also gave generously of her time and financial resources to her favorite local charities.

In addition to her three children, she is survived by grandson Troy Claar (Karen) and great grandson Evan Wyatt Claar, age 5, of Albuquerque, New Mexico in addition to dozens of nieces and nephews on both the Schacht and Youker sides of the family.

She will forever be remembered in our hearts.

Private family Christian burial conducted at Santa Barbara cemetery.

Memorial contributions to: Student Tutoring Center, c/o First United Methodist Church, 305 E. Anapamu St., Santa Barbara, CA 93101 or the Santa Barbara Symphony League, c/o Mrs. Lois Duncan, 1008 Bajada Grande, Santa Barbara, CA 93109, or a charity of your choice.

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Letter from ASF member Courtlin Stoker writing from  the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) (Dated 7/10/11)
by Courtlin Stoker

Dear ASF members,

July 10, 2011 - It has been about 2 1/2 weeks in the DRC. I can't tell you how amazing and eye opening it has been so far. While there is a lot of down time, I find myself trying to reflect on so many things. I was surprised to learn that there used to be many Swedes and Norweigens in the DRC. Many of the adults still have friends from Scandinavian countries.

The market is amazing!!! The opening ceremony was yesterday. It was great to see the people of Mumosho so happy as well as see the beauty of the market. I have been teaching English during the week to children4 to 15. I have two groups in the morning and one student in the afternoon who I teach grammer to.

While I have had my challenges to say the least, the joy on the children's faces is irreplaceable. They arrive earlier and earlier every morning. I am happy to say that I have had no problems. Never-the-less, there are constant reminders of the struggles of the country. However, if only you guys could meet the people I have been given the opportunity to meet you would see the beauty and strength of not only the country, but the people. I'm sorry to inform everyone that I won't be able to send this from the DRC because a post office doesn't exist. When I get back to Switzerland, I will send it as quickly as possible. :) I hope all is well and the summer weather is bringing out the Scandinavian spirit.

With Warmest Regards, Courtlin Stoker.
Here is Courtlin's website so you can follow her travels:
Also, if you have a facebook account become a fan at:!/pages/Good-Will-Trek/169632606418957

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A story about Flat Stanley
by Lilli M. Tragos, ASFSB member

On my way to Denmark in May this year I stopped off for a couple of days to visit with my two daughters Helene and Amalia and their 4 children in Glencoe, north of Chicago.

My grandson Trevor (8 years old) told me about a project they were doing in his 2nd grade class. They were sending “Flat Stanley” (he fits into an envelope) around the world to learn from other children about their country’s culture. Flat Stanley had just returned from Egypt.

I offered to bring Flat Stanley to Denmark and give him to my niece’s son Tobias who is 7 years old. Tobias brought Flat Stanley to school in Birkerød, which is a town 15 miles North of Copenhagen. This is what the Danish children in his class wrote about Denmark: We live in a small country called Denmark. It is a rich country. We work with computers. We pay tax. We help the poor. We work until we reach the age of 65. We have a Queen, her name is Margrethe - we have no king. We live in a nice country. We help each other in Denmark. We start school when we are 6 years old. We go to school (the same school) for 10 years. Grown-ups are not allowed to beat children. We live in a peaceful country. We have a lot of sweet animals. We live in families with mother, father and children. We have lots of pets. We can go to the doctor if we get ill, and it is free. We have a lot of different wild birds. We use cell phones. At school we learn to read, draw and do mathematics. On he 13th of December we do a “Lucia parade” where we dress in white and walk through the school and sing in Italian. In February we celebrate “Fastelavn” which is a kind of Halloween with special Danish traditions.

Unfortunately this idyllic view of Denmark is not always true if you live in a less privileged neighborhood than Birkerød.

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ASF Summer Picnic review
by Heidi Poley

On Sunday, June 12th at Tucker's Grove Park, even though the sun did not show up, ASF members met for our annual Family Picnic. As it was a potluck many wonderful entrees, salads, and apetizers were contributed to the overflowing food table. Of course, there was an extra table for the dessert!
We had several newer members attend and the Dahlin's joined that day! Welcome! We also had visitors from Sweden and Norway. Milla Herrick astounded us with her lovely voice and sang some children's songs that were once sung to her as a little girl growing up in Sweden.

If you would like to have these sweet songs please click here to download pdf file as the song lyrics have been added for your singing pleasure. A tent was set up with some musical instruments and the kids were able to make there own music.
Some people inquired about the Almond Bar recipe so you can download the pdf file here. Also attached is the Turkey Loaf recipe - click here to download pdf file.
It was great to see you all at the park. Until next time...Birthday party at Ellen's house for Elizabeth Yourker & Christine Groppe on July 17th.

See more pictures here

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Three Santa Barbara area students have received ASF scholarships

Left to right: Heather Voorhis, Kristin Van Der Kar, Sara Dahlin

Three Santa Barbara area students have received scholarships awarded by the American Scandinavian Foundation of Santa Barbara at the annual Scholarship luncheon on May 7, held at the City College.

This year’s recipients of the awards of $2,500 each were Sara Dahlin from San Marcos High School, Kristin Van Der Kar, graduating from Carpinteria High School, and Heather Voorhis, a senior from Santa Ynez Valley High School. All the Scholarships are administered by the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara and honor students with Scandinavian academic interest or heritage.

See more pictures here

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Long time member Ruthie Johnson has moved to be near her family

Ruthie Johnson now lives in Rochester, MI  48307 (please contact Evelyne Houdek to get more info). Ruthie was a loyal supporter of ASF for many years, often opening her home for events. She could always be relied on for preparing name tags, until her eyesight became a problem. 

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Fastelavn Memories
from Einar Hovind

This is the day that the Scandinavians celebrate "Fastelavn Sondag"; the Sunday before Ash Wednesday.  I don't recall from my childhood in Norway that we went overboard with wild Mardi Gras festiveties, but we did have some fun while enjoying delicious "fastelavn boller" and other rich food on that day.
As I understand it the Danes have a traditional game of breaking a wooden barrel with a cat image on it and  filled with candy and oranges, similar to our local pinatas game.  It was apparently based on a superstitious ritual of beating a barrel with a black cat in it as a safeguard against evil, but I am sure the kids have more fun with the candy than watching a scared, black cat.
The Norwegian tradition included having fun with "Fastelavn ris": bundles of decorated birchtree branches which the kids could use to spank their parents on  Fastelavn sunday.  All in all, the Fastelavn is remembered as a time with family games and fun, plus an occasion to indulge in rich food, before the beginning of Lent. 

From Lilli Tragos

I remember fastelavn well. During my childhood in Denmark we kids would wake up our parents with a fastelavnsris as you described. In the afternoon families would gather at clubs, schools or neighborhoods to “slå katten af tønden” (beat the cat off the barrel). The barrel was made of strong wood so it took a lot of effort by the kids to break that barrel and release the candy inside. The child who succeeded in doing that would be declared the kattekonge (cat king) and crowned.

Then everyone would be served fastelavnsboller (large cream puffs with chocolate icing). That brings back a lot of good memories. Thank you Einar for the nostalgia.

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Young Viking Courtlin Stoker Visits Human Rights Conference
by Courtlin Stoker

As the thermometer hit minus thirty, it was clear that I was not in Santa Barbara anymore. At the end of January, I was given the opportunity to attend the largest student run Human Rights Conference in North America at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. At the conference, I engaged with other students from across the globe to discuss and challenge contemporary viewpoints on a wide range of human right issues. Topics ranged from Refugees in Uganda to US- Mexico Border.

Various panels throughout the four day long conference provided a multi-faceted approach to understanding and dealing with the complex aspects of human rights. One of the most inspiring components of the Conference were the keynote speakers such as Rose Mapendo and Dr Barbara Harrell-Bond, who reminded all the student delegates why Human Rights are so important. I will take my experience at Northwestern University Conference on Human Rights throughout my educational journey.

I thank ASF for its continued support and look forward to keeping everyone updated as I embark on the journey that lies ahead.

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Congratulations to ASF Member Karina Jougla for Receiving Girls Incorporated Lucile Miller Wright Scholarship
by Evelyne Houdek

We send our sincere and proud congratulations to  our own "Santa Lucia" Karina Jougla, who has been awarded the highly competitive Girls Incorporated Lucile Miller Wright Scholarship. The award of $15,000 towards her college education followed her selection from a national pool of qualified applicants.
Karina has attended Girls, Inc. of Carpinteria since kindergarten, and credits the group with playing an important part in her many successes and achievements. She is a junior at Carpinteria high School and . served as president of the CHS Junior Statesmen of America last year,and currently  is the regional mayor.

She presently serves as the Board  chair for the Youth Advisory Board for Congresswoman Lois Capps.
Her list of accomplishments includes teaching the drama program at Girls, Inc, and last year she was  part of the Water Girls team, a group challenged with developing and executing a business plan. The team's water conservation plan earned them a trip to New York City to present their plan at Goldman Sachs.
We at AFS agree that Karina is an amazing young woman, and know that she will continue to make us all  proud.

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