Instructors

Becca (Nelson) Ayala

Becca has been a language instructor for the Norwegian Language and Culture program since 2005.  She started learning Norwegian at the University of Chicago, where she earned her BA in psychology and developed an interest in the psychology of language learning.  She continued her study of Norwegian language and culture at the Oslo International Summer School in 2002 and studied Linguistics and Norwegian as a Second Language as a Fulbright scholar at the University of Oslo in 2004-5.  Becca, or Minda as she is also known, has also spent seven summers at Skogfjorden, Concordia's Norwegian Language Village, as a counselor and teacher for the high school credit program.  When she is not teaching Norwegian, Becca works as a teaching assistant with high school students with autism.  She also enjoys expanding her language skills with her Spanish-speaking husband.

Valerie "Magna" Borey

Valerie has been teaching Norwegian to learners of all ages since 2000. She has a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Minnesota, an M.A. in the Social Sciences from the University of Chicago, and is currently completing the Writer’s Program (Fiction) at UCLA. She learned Norwegian at home as a child and is proud to share the language in both serious and playful ways through programs like NLCP, Skogfjorden, Barnehage, and Norge Rundt (Concordia Language Villages).  

Valerie has been a contributor to Learning Languages Journal (National Network for Early Language Learning), Viking Magazine, and Norwegian-American Weekly, and publications such as Children Under Construction: Critical Essays on Play as Curriculum (Peter Lang, 2010), Classroom Materials for Less Commonly Taught Languages (CARLA, 2007), and the Standards for Learning Scandinavian Languages (Center for European Studies, University of WI), and has presented on the topic of language and culture education at Concordia Language Villages, Lakselaget, Global Education Conference, and the Minnesota Council on the Teaching of Languages and Cultures. In her other life, she works as a writer, actor/improviser, and playwright and serves on the board at both Workhouse Theatre Company and Studio Alethea Productions. 

Clara Boyum

Clara has taught with the NLCP for the past ten years. She has a BA in Scandinavian Studies from Concordia College in Moorhead, MN. She also studied at a Folkehøgskole in Norway in 1998-99. Clara works at Project for Pride in Living, a non-profit organization in Minneapolis. 

Christina Espey-Sundt

Christina is in her first season teaching Norwegian with the Norwegian Language and Culture program. She is a recent graduate of St. Olaf College, where she majored in Norwegian and Sociology/Anthropology. While at St. Olaf, Christina was a student worker in the Norwegian Department and spent a year as the language assistant for the Norwegian House. She attended the International Summer School, and spent semesters at the University of Oslo and the University of Tromsø. Before attending St. Olaf, Christina also spent a year at Toneheim Folkehøgskole where she studied classical music. She is currently serving as the program assistant for the Refugee and Immigrant Program at The Advocates for Human Rights, and is especially interested in immigration policy in both Norway and the United States. 

Alan Ingman

Alan began studying Norwegian as a child at Skogfjorden, Concordia's Norwegian Language Village in Bemidji, Minnesota and has been involved with the program ever since, both as a villager and staff member. During the summer months, he has served as a member of the leadership and teaching staff at Skogfjorden, facilitating its four-week long program for students pursuing high school language credit in Norwegian. He continues to work on a year-round basis for Concordia Language Villages and celebrated his 15th summer on staff in 2011. He received his B.A. in Scandinavian Studies, Philosophy, and Religion from Concordia College in Moorhead, MN and has traveled extensively in Norway, spending nearly 11 weeks abroad during his past two trips.

Christine Midelfort

Christine is a third generation Norwegian-American who grew up in western Wisconsin. She lived in Norway, attending 2 folk high schools, and returned to Norway after graduating from Grinnell College in Russian Studies to teach at a folk high school in Fredrikstad. Upon her return she studied and taught Norwegian at the U of M and received a MA in Scandinavian Studies in 1976. She continued in Cultura Anthropology at the U of Wis. and Brown Unversity and finished in 1982 with a MA and ABD. She has done anthropological research in Norway regarding Pentecostals in Hedmark for 4 months which led to my master's thesis in Cultural Anthropology in 1981. 
 
Christine has researched Hmong mental health issues with the Wilder Foundation, taught Cultural Anthropology briefly at Gustavus Adolphus, and taught Norwegian language and culture at all different age levels from pre-kindergarten to Elderhostel. Currently she
teaches Norwegian twice a year in the adult program at Concordia Language Villages, translates Norwegian letters and books and prepares strenuously to teach 3 classes at Mindekirken! Christine has a husband (not Norwegian), 2 daughters, 2 dogs, 2 horses, 1 cockatiel, 1 guinea pig and a constant yearning to make frequent trips back to Norway where she has been known to give papers, watch soccer games and visit relatives. 
 

John Yilek

John teaches Norwegian history in the Norwegian Language and Culture program. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota and the University of Minnesota Law School. In college he majored in International Relations with an emphasis on Western European history, politics and language, and he has studied Norwegian language and history for many years. He has also traveled extensively in Norway, including visits to his family in Røros and Nordland. John was the co-founder of Mindekirken's first Advanced Norwegian Conversation Group, and he has taught many courses for college and law students, lawyers, business people, and Norwegian-Americans.