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I am an immigrant from Sweden and have been in the United States since my twenties. My last point of immigration was to Holland, Michigan in 1988, but I lived out west for nearly twenty years until 2016. Many friends and most of my family are still back home including aunts, nieces, nephew, brothers in Stockholm, and sisters in Gursken, Norway. I have two children and three grandchildren and currently reside in Grand Haven where I have a private practice as a psychologist and licensed counselor.
Understanding our roots can help us feel connected and Sweden is rich in tradition and cultural values. Growing up in a small community outside of Stockholm and spending many summers in both Dalarna and skärgården (Stockholm’s archipelago), I learned the importance of our customs. I speak fluent Swedish and a fading version of Norwegian. I usually travel home each June for Midsommar but will remain in the USA this year.
It has been wonderful to have a taste of home here in the states (besides my kitchen) with the various events that SAHS hosts. You have done a beautiful job of capturing the essence of Scandinavian culture. Whether it is Lucia or the fantastic Jaerv concert in March, I would love to learn more about SAHS and find meaningful ways to contribute to its mission. Thank you for your consideration.
My name is Matthew Noykos. I grew up in West Michigan, having been born in South Haven, but spending most of my childhood in the Grand Rapids area. I am a husband to Sonja and we have two children named Lucia and Theodore. I moved back to Grand Rapids in 2014 after having lived in Cincinnati, Salt Lake City, and Raleigh, North Carolina. I moved back to Grand Rapids to start my own business, Grand Rapids Violins, LLC, with my business partner Kevin, where we provide service to the string playing community as well as make instruments of our own. I have been in the violin making and restoration field for about 16 years. Before that I had completed a masters degree in music performance on double bass from Cincinnati Conservatory of music. I also studied some piano while I was there as well as my undergrad.
I have Swedish connections through my maternal grandfather who was full Swedish (my mom’s maiden name was Bergstrom). My family had also hosted an exchange student named Suzie from Sweden when I was a young boy. She stayed with us for a year and became very close with our family, even being the maid of honor in my sister’s wedding years later (she’s about the same age as my sister). My family also had the joy of attending Suzie’s wedding in Sweden a few years later. My wife’s family is much more connected to their Scandinavian heritage, even though her parents were born in the US. She’s of Norwegian and Danish decent. 100% Norwegian on her dad’s side and 100% Danish from her mom. They lived in Norway for Sonja’s elementary years while her dad was pastor of a Lutheran church in Stavanger, but she has spent the majority of her pre-adult years in Washington State.
I have never been on a board before, so this would be a new experience. I would hope I could add something to the group.