During our senior year we had an exchange student from Norway named Nana.
She was a bright, vivacious girl, insatiably curious, and very friendly. Our minister and his wife, the Reverend and Mrs. John Rodgers, hosted her stay at the parsonage in Newmanstown. Her English was excellent, so idiomatic, in fact, that it was easy to forget that she was from Norway.
One time when it was Elco’s turn to be featured on the local radio station’s fifteen minute program highlighting activities at regional high schools, our administrators dropped the ball and forgot to plan a program. When WLBR’s engineer turned up at the school, Maryann and I were hastily summoned to the principal’s office to conduct an impromptu interview with Nana. We later learned that WLBR’s brass were furious that Elco’s administrators had failed to prepare in advance, but they were very pleased with the resulting interview, and it turned out to be one of the highlights of that year’s shows. All thanks to Nana’s effervescent personality.
When we put together an exchange assembly to perform at the Annville-Cleona High School (and later repeated at an LCTI meeting), Nana performed a couple Norwegian folk songs.
I had been wanting to get back in touch with Nana, but my search efforts had proved fruitless and no one else that I asked had kept in touch with her either.
So I turned to my Danish friend, Steffen. Actually, like many of my “friends” on social media, I’ve never actually met Steffen, but we have exchanged a lot of messages over the years and we share a mutual admiration for the art of Stephen Sondheim.
I sent a message to Steffen to the effect, “I know that Denmark isn’t Norway, but do you have any suggestion for finding Nana?”
Within minutes he had located her Facebook page!
Why had he succeeded while I had failed? You see, in our yearbook her name is spelled “Nana”, so I just assumed that that was the correct spelling, and presumably I must have just ignored any results with variant spellings. Silly me!
Her name is actually spelled “Nanna”, at least on Facebook, and according to Steffen, that’s the more common spelling.
How did I know that this was indeed “our” Nana, or rather Nanna? She listed Eastern Lebanon County High School (Elco) as one of her schools.
So I immediately sent her a friend request and a message on Facebook. There was only one problem: her Facebook page showed that she hadn’t been active for over a year. There could, of course, be many explanations for this, but if she were no longer checking Facebook, she might never see my message and request.
Enter Steffen once again. He was able to find not only her phone number but also her address. As he put it, it’s much easier to find that in a land of five million people than in one of 300 million.
He thought the phone number was a mobile and that I could send her a text, but I felt that might be a bit too intrusive after all these years, so I wrote a letter. I sent it in early December and was told it would take about ten business days to get there.
As of now I have not received a reply, even though I included my email, phone number, and snail mail address. There are, of course, many possible explanations. I choose to believe that my letter simply got lost in the avalanche of seasonal mail. Maybe I’ll try again.