Chapters from the Mature Story of a Politician
by Jon Baldvintranslated by Will C. van den Hoonaard
pages 251, 319-320
Iceland: Vaka-Helgafell, 2002
originally published as "Kafolar úr Þroskasögu Stjórnmálamanns".
... It was high up in my mind to offer study materials and preparations for graduate students in disciplines that might be useful for professional life and direct students to specialized training to prepare foundational jobs with fishing and fisheries operations. I made my way up relationships with the University of Tromso in northern Norway specializing in fisheries, fish and ocean biology, and outfitting operations. One winter Will van den Hoonaard taught at my school. Will was Dutch by birth but a Canadian national. Will was preparing his doctoral thesis about fishing society in the North Atlantic. He had taught at the University of Newfoundland in St. John’s, and New Brunswick in Canada. He connected me with the authorities of these schools that promised to provide assistance to undergraduates from Isafjordur if they wanted to go to graduate fisheries. I encouraged my students when I have noticed that capability, going outside for further studies, provided advice to the best of ability and assisted with application in time. ...
Spiritual renewal at Harvard
According to an agreement, high school teachers have the right to apply for an unpaid leave to graduate or intellectual rehabilitation after at least ten years. With the support of the U.S. Embassy and the Fulbright Foundation in Iceland I applied for and received a fellowship at Harvard in winter 1976-1977 and I received a Fulbright grant for the journey. This was resolved in the autumn, before the new school year began. Indeed, the Bahá'í assembly in Isafjordur made some contribution to the larger society.
The United States [sic] based Bahá'í community had spent the winter in Isafjorður. It had made good progress in finding souls. For example, from among students of mine, several joined the congregation, including Halldor Thorgeirsson, who is now a leading expert in the field of the environment, and kept along with others in the cause of Icelanders in the negotiation of the Kyoto Protocol. Will van den Hoonard, Canada, the man who taught sociology at my school one winter, was also member of this congregation. I respect the views of the Bahá'ís in religious matters, not least because of their keystone ideas of tolerance towards the major religions of the world. Such awareness prevailed among students who participated in this work and became a beneficial and positive impact.
In the autumn of 1976, the [Bahá’í] community had a visit from a young American, John [Walbridge], who was in the doctoral program in Arabic Studies (and indeed in medieval Persian) at Harvard. He and other Bahá'ís, friends of his in Boston, walked around the old streets in Boston during the first weeks. It was the effect of these friends of mine that I became interested in knowing more about the history of the Arab world and the special place Islam among the religions of the world, especially from the publications of Bernard Lewis, a leading specialist among Americans in Islamic history and the Arab world. This would later come in handy later when I had become the Minister of Foreign Affairs [of Iceland] trying to delve beneath the surface of the history between Jews and Arabs in the Middle East. All of this is thanks to the Bahá'ís. ...