Slowly becoming like the locals
William Oðin Lefever, aged 32, is a sports and youth representative in Djúpivogur. He lives there with his girlfriend, Greta Mjöll Samúelsdóttir, and together they have one daughter, Anna Regína. Despite having no connection to the east, they moved to Austurland from Kópavogur in the southwest two years ago, and in that time have become serene small-towners.
“I was offered a job,” says Óðinn, when asked why he moved east. “I‘ve got my roots in the western part of the island, and neither my wife nor I had any connections here. We just decided to try it, and it has been wonderful; fun and easy. People think it‘s hard to move, but it isn‘t.” He adds that, when he told them, the most common question he received from friends and colleagues in Kópavogur was whether the plan was to settle. “People do not expect that you are moving for a long period or even permanently,” he says.
Being a sports and youth representative involves, among other things, managing Neisti, the local sports club, directing the youth social centre, supporting students, plus doing other projects for the municipality, such as preparing the formation of a youth agency. The agency´s aim is to empower youth in town, and give young people the opportunity to influence society. “At their core, all teenagers are alike. And the differences between adolescents, whether they live in small or large communities is decreasing. Use of social media has helped in narrowing the distance. For instance, I notice that the guys here are in daily contact with kids in Norðfjörður, or Reyðarfjörður, or wherever. This was not the case ten years ago, and I think this is a huge step forward.”
Óðinn has adjusted easily to Djúpivogur. “I appreciate small-town residency,” he says. “To begin with it seemed everyone knew me, but I didn‘t know anyone.” He laughs, and says: “but now I‘m slowly becoming the same as the locals. I´ll notice an unfamiliar car driving past, and immediately start wondering who is behind the wheel”.
Other things have pleasantly surprised him: “On the one hand, errands get done really quickly. For instance, I´ll call the doctor at 10:00 and get an appointment for two hours later. On the other hand, it surprised me how quickly one can become immersed in a town´s social life. All of a sudden one becomes entangled in all kinds of side-projects. The fire department contacted me soon after we moved here, I was offered, and took, a part-time teaching job, I now play guitar in a band, and, am learning to shoot and hunt, which is something I never even thought about doing before” he says.
Óðinn concludes: “although there is a definitely a more languid atmosphere here, the local populace expects you to get involved and assumes that you will be willing to do so, which of course I am, I don´t want to let the community down.”
Text by Jón Knútur Ásmundsson.
Photos by Rhombie Sandoval.