“Maybe we’re Swedes with strong American influences, or we’re Americans with strong Swedish influences,” explained Anna Brita Mohr, one of this year's contestants, tells The Local.
Season two of the hit TV show "Allt för Sverige" ('Everything for Sweden') was filmed over the summer and host Anders Lundin returns to Sveriges Television (SVT) to guide ten new curious contestants through a competition to give them a peek into their families' past.
For participants Vernon Neil Ferguson, 42, and 32-year-old Mohr, being selected was an emotional roller coaster.
”I cried. It was a lifelong dream to come here. I was very close to my mormor [maternal grandmother], who died 18 years ago and this was a way to reconnect with her,” Ferguson explains.
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Ferguson's grandmother came to the United States with her Dutch husband, but as she never spoke about Sweden, her grandson knew little about his heritage.
With the first episode taking off in an area near where several contestants have family roots, the picturesque High Coast (Höga Kusten) of northeastern Sweden, the group delved into their past from the very first day.
All contestants were given photos of their ancestors, with a key and very little extra information - an overwhelming experience for many of the contestants.
”In English, you would call it 'rubbernecking'. We were constantly turning our heads at everything. All the sights, the smells, and the road signs that were in Swedish,” Ferguson says.
”Those first days were just full of adrenaline,” Mohr adds.
Finding out more about their ancestry triggered similar emotions, and both contestants agree that the new family findings rounded out their knowledge of themselves.
”There is a relief when you find out certain things, but that is accompanied with more questions,” Ferguson explains.
”Putting stories to the faces and resolving the question of why my family left Sweden was something that had to be answered, but it was not a happy experience. It was more just facts,” he admits.
Mohr, who is half-Swedish and has always been labelled as ”the tall Swedish girl”, adds that coming to Sweden felt like coming home.
”I felt like there were a lot of things that were very familiar,” she says.
Despite experiencing some culture shock, Ferguson agrees, saying that ”during that first week, everyone began to feel at home.”
Ferguson recalls that their group bonded well and ended up feeling like a family in Sweden, in their own peculiar way.
"We were all very different people, but we bonded because of this one shared experience,” Mohr adds.
“Feeling at home with a group of strangers was probably the most meaningful experience, combined with finding out about my country and my family.”
“We had such a good group, we've definitely become lifelong friends,” adds Ferguson.
Having returned to the United States, all contestants have taken bits of Sweden home with them. Particularly, Ferguson and Mohr agree, the word lagom.
“It’s an ideal, I definitely gained an appreciation for that,” Mohr explains.
“Before coming to Sweden, I would have described that word as Goldilocks and the three bears; you know everything is just right,” Ferguson tells The Local.
“But it’s not that – it’s a whole way of life.”
Season two of "Allt för Sverige" starts on Sunday, October 28th at 8pm on SVT channel 1
Sanne Schim van der Loeff
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