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1 600 followed LitFest Young

Eivind Senneset

One of the big commitments by the Bergen International Literary Festival (LitFestBergen) in 2021 was its wide-ranging LitFestUNG youth programme.

Pupils from nine lower and upper secondary schools in the Bergen area were able to experience such authors as Jason Reynolds, Dag O Hessen, Yohan Shanmugaratnam, Maria Navarro Skaranger and Fatameh Ehktesari. 

A goal for the programme was that the students should be involved as much as possible. School classes worked in advance on the authors’ books and conducted interviews on the stage themselves. 

“The pupils were clever, courageous and hard-hitting,” says programme adviser Hjørdis Losnedahl. “I’m very impressed at how well they worked with the subject material in advance.”

Not shut down

For some of the programme items, students came to the Bergen House of Literature to interview the authors online from the stage. Others conducted similar virtual interviews from their own room at home.

No less than 1 600 students followed the programme remotely.

“The schools programme secured a much wider reach than we’d expected,” reports Losnedahl. “A total of 28 events were scheduled, but the Covid-19 lockdown in Bergen during the festival week meant that this number had to be scaled back a bit.

“Nevertheless, almost all the planned authors took part and, with the exception of a few school classes, the original programme was implemented.

“Schools, teachers, pupils and authors displayed great patience and flexibility.”

Emphasis on quality

The youth programme this year was divided into sections spread over three days on the issues of racism and identity, nature and climate, and freedom of expression and polarisation.

Participants included Bergen Cathedral School, Nordahl Grieg Upper Secondary School, Bergen Private Upper Secondary School, Rothaugen School, Ortun Lower Secondary School, Olsvik School and Slåtthaug Lower Secondary School.

“Feedback suggests that presenting a programme for young people with the same detailed preparation and good quality as the one for general festival participants is much appreciated by pupils, teachers and authors,” says Losnedahl.

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