No room for understating

There is no room for understating things today. I’m exhausted, physically and mentally, and I’m so pleased that it is Saturday. Pleased that no one is available for anything today and that it is snowing outside. I have every excuse in the world to stay under the covers and read. Which I will do, once I have finished writing my field notes, the 13 emails to people I now need to meet and the translated version of my research questions. I’m battling hard if I should have a nap first or just get it done.

Yesterday was a huge success. From home I had calculated the time of my interviews to be around 15 minutes. This would only be the case if I could gain trust from people and make them comfortable while answering. Otherwise my four questions can be answered in less than five minutes. I have been told, time and time again, that Greenlanders don’t talk, that it is hard to make them say anything and I have worried about this extensively.

If I had only known.

The Greenlanders I have interviewed have been open, honest and ready to share their thoughts and experiences to no end. They give every question I ask an honest go, even if they don’t quite understand what it is I am asking them (language, language, language). They are very willing to work on the answers with me by letting me rephrase the question, direct them in a different direction from the answers I get and so on. Everyone is patient and everyone is willing to participate. It is just amazing.

In short, my highest hope was to exit Ilulissat with 4-5 interviews of 10-15 minutes each. Yesterday I completed 11 interviews, the shortest was 20 minutes; the longest was 2 hours. Another three to four people have agreed to be interviewed over the phone as there was not enough time. I returned to my hotel after 10pm with an overloaded brain, completely overwhelmed by everyone’s kindness and genuine effort to participate. I find grateful an inadequate word to describe how I feel, but I don’t know a better one.

One woman blew me away. I must have reached something inside her, when I presented my research two days ago, because she came prepared for the interview. After we were done, she asked me to stay seated and then stood up, did a few movements, rubbed her hands and then took both my hands into hers. In her hand was a little polished rock. While our hands met around the rock she said: “this is a little piece of Greenland for you to take with you. Keep it with you and think of us where you go.” Then she gave me two CDs with music from Greenland. She asked me to play it quietly in the background when I was writing my notes from Greenland.

I began listening to one of the CDs this morning. By song number 5 I had tears running down my cheeks. I don’t know how to upload the song from the CD, but I found another song by the same choir on youtube. Please make sure you listen for more than one minute so you can hear the harmonies.


There are so many stories to be told from here. I don’t know where to begin, but I can feel that this is what I am meant to do. This is my life’s project; I feel focused and guided in what I’m doing and just know that this is it. As I said, there is no room for understating things today.


4 thoughts on “No room for understating

    • Vi har meget dårlig internet heroppe i Ilulissat, så det bliver meget hurtigt. jeg er i gang med at sammenligne kriminal retten in Grønland med kriminal retten i the Torres Strait Islands (Australien). Det handler mest om at se nye måder at forbedre de nuværende systemer ved at søge inspiration hos hinanden. Men jeg er også i gang med at få kontakter til andre projekter, bla om de børn der blev fjernet som Tine Bryld og Helene Thiesen har skrevet om.
      Jeg er i Ilulissat lige nu, men skal videre til Aasiaat imorgen. Derfra skal jeg til Nuuk og så til Qaqortoq. Dermed håber jeg at dække de fire retskredse…

      Er det ikke bare en skøn sang. Jeg bliver så rørt når jeg hører den.
      Og tusind tak for besøget på min blog!

    • It is truely beautiful. I have just opened my email and it is pouring in with comments from the people I’ve met and contact details for more people they recommend I talk to. My visit list has been expanded dramatically in the coming three places where I’m going. I have no words for it. It really is fantastic.

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