Sally Franson from Minneapolis never got in touch with her Swedish heritage until she became the winner of the Swedish reality television show “All for Sweden”. Learn more about the US author’s emotional journey to Sweden.
Sally Franson is a novelist and a visiting English professor at the Twin Cities’ Macalester College. In December 2019, she decided on a lark to apply for a Swedish reality show. In this season’s (the tenth) episodes of the very popular Swedish television program “Allt for Sverige”, some of the participants will go to Lidköping in search of their roots. 10 Swedish Americans are recruited to come to the homeland of their ancestors.
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The television show helped 38-year old Franson trace her Swedish roots through her late father, a Lutheran pastor, whose great-grandfather immigrated from Sweden to the U.S. Before applying, she felt little connection to her ancestors. She’d never even been to Sweden and viewed genealogy as a “baffling” and hard-to-crack hobby.
However, for the participant Sally with roots in Härjevad it was an emotional journey. Not only did she discover her distant relatives, she also became the crowned winner of the popular program shared with 1.4 million people.
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The ultimate goal of the show is learning about Swedish culture and exploring family history — a genealogist is cast to help on that — and a series of challenges adds to the entertainment factor.
“Even when I came to Sweden, I had the feeling that I had come home, that I belong here. I was surprised how many emotions I had when I arrived,” she says on the TV show. “I think I probably cried 15 times on Swedish national television,” she explained later. “It’s a very powerful experience understanding in a visceral way where I come from.”
Watch Allt För Sverige Season 10 Episode 1 (Behind the Scenes) here.
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“These are intimate moments during this recording,” said producer Christer Åkelund. Sally learned of the hardships that her ancestors often had to endure in those days, ranging from infant mortality to selling everything for the chance to get to the U.S.
US English Professor’s Emotional Journey to Sweden, written by Tor Kjolberg