he / him / his
Service Project: The Initiative Foundation
Hello! My name is Haakon Lehn. I am from Denver, Colorado, but moved out to Minnesota to attend St. Olaf College, from which I just graduated! I have a degree in Political Science and Russian/Russian Area Studies. I love soccer and traveling/languages. I love to throw myself into immersive experiences and I have participated in almost 10 intercultural exchange programs around the world. Through travel and my experience growing up in Denver, I have learned that people's differences are smaller than that which they have in common. The United States has certainly had issues reconciling differences between people and our media rhetoric seems hellbent on exacerbating imagined difference. I want to participate in community outreach and civic dialogue work because I think America is being misled in several ways and that we as an American community have more to show for ourselves in terms of unity, a common mission, and community building. I wish to be a part of work that enlightens this unity and reimagines the American populous as a united whole, and not a fractured amalgamation of ideologues and dogmatic rhetoric. I think civic dialogue is much more achievable than we are sometimes meant to believe and all it takes is understanding, humility, and the desire to come together.
Wavin' Flag by K'NAAN
This might be the greatest song ever made (or any remake of it). I love the attitude of the song; it is so joyous and it was made for a beautiful event (2010 World Cup). I have a great memory of listening and dancing to this song with some friends in my house. All of us dancing were from all around the world (America, Armenia, Palestine, Turkey, etc) and I think that this song embraces internationalism and last, but not least, celebrates soccer! Soccer for me is called the beautiful game for a reason and this song brings people together just like soccer does. Also, this song is one of the first songs I downloaded and it really started what I describe as a very inqusitive, worldy, soccer-centric period in my life so it holds really great memories for me.
Hardknock by Joey Bada$$ and CJ Fly
This song perfectly encapsulates the next period in my life: high school and Denver. This album is forever connected with my life in Denver hanging out with my two best friends, riding around in my friend's Red Prius that he still has to this day and looking for random fun things to get into. The philosophy of the artists who made this song and their collective really influenced my thinking during that period in my life and made me think deeply about life, power structures and how to look critically at everything. This type of music sparked a lot of conversations between my friends and I, whose ideas and wisdom made me reevaluate a lot of ideas I thought to be true and set me on a new path where I began to find myself and what truly mattered to me. So, this song and album have a deep place in my heart as it represents youth, reinvention, questioning, friendship, and introspection.
Ali Hala Abada by Vieux Farka Touré
Caveat to this description: I do not know what the lyrics are to this song. I will just describe how the song makes me feel. So, with the last song, it has a certain hecticness and urgency to it. During those introspective, inquisitive years of high school, my life felt like that. I needed answers, I needed to change the world, I needed to explore, etc. I drove myself crazy like that. I then spent a year abroad and had my world flipped upside down and when I came back to the United States I felt lost. I felt split between two worlds, two mentalities, two sets of expectations, and did not really know how to reintegrate to American culture. After four years, I believe I have found my "zen". I know what is important to me, what is in my control, how I can impact those I love and the spaces I care about. This song represents tranquility to me. It gives me calm and represents my newfound assuredness in my mentality, choices, and actions.