Kate Mills of Bellingham wanted to get in touch with her Norwegian heritage, so she did what everyone does when searching for their roots – earn a spot on a reality TV show in her ancestral homeland.
Mills, a fifth-grade teacher at Parkview Elementary School in Bellingham, is one of 12 contestants on season 7 of “Alt for Norge.” The reality TV series aims to reunite Norwegian Americans with their roots and familial relations in Norway.
In a promotional video on Facebook, Mills explains that she was 9 years old when her mother died and is trying to reconnect with her roots. She joined the Bellingham chapter of Daughters of Norway in 2014, learned to speak the language and sings in Damekor, a Norwegian women’s choir.
“Lately, my passion really has been to figure out this part of my family that’s from Norway, the side of me that’s missing,” said Mills, whose mother’s family hails from Rissa, Norway. “It’s been such a joy for me because it was the beginning of this gap being filled, of my mom not being there.”
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Contestants fly to Norway to compete in a kind of cultural obstacle course. In past seasons, events have included cross-country skiing, fishing for cod, even picking up recycling on a nude beach (though the award-winning show bills itself as family-friendly).
One contestant is eliminated each week by the show’s host. The winner gets $50,000 and a family reunion with relatives in Norway.
“It’s very different from American reality TV,” Mills said. “ We all want to meet our family; we’re all passionate about our heritage. There’s no fighting and we’re all sad when people have to leave.”
Sworn to confidentiality, Mills cannot say how long she lasts on the 10-week show – no matter how many times her students ask.
“I had to lie to them for a big chunk of time” while auditioning last year, Mills said. “Now they’re all like, ‘Did you win? Did you win?’ and of course I cannot tell them anything.”
“Alt for Norge translates as “All for Norway,” the royal motto of Norway, though the show is marketed in the United States as “The Great Norway Adventure.” It debuted in 2010 and appears on TVNorge. Follow it on Facebook at facebook.com/altfornorge.
‘Alt for Norge’ viewing party
Kate Mills will host a viewing party for the first episode of “Alt for Norge” at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 12, in Fox Hall at the Hampton Inn in Bellingham. The event is free and open to the public.
Then viewing parties will be at 7 p.m. on subsequent Sundays. Watch for updates at facebook.com/katemillsaltfornorge.