Fraternal Director Linda Pederson recently left Sons of Norway to move back to her hometown, Ålesund. Here’s a look back at her time with Sons of Norway, and what she’s up to now.
How many years did you work with Sons of Norway and in which roles?
12 years total, first as a Marketing and PR admin, then Supervisor and later Manager of Fraternal Lodge and Membership Services, and then I was Fraternal Director for 9 years.
What drew you to Sons of Norway?
Loving all things Norwegian and wanting to promote Norway was the initial draw. I found out about the organization through my husband’s grandfather—he’d been a lodge officer. Seeing his dedication to making a difference in the community, and the fellowship that he talked about, was what drew me to it.
I wanted to work in a place with purpose, with people who care about others and love Norway. It was like a home away from home.
What has been your favorite aspect of working for Sons of Norway?
Definitely the members. Being a part of an organization that is so giving and loving. Making a difference, and having fun doing so. Treasuring our heritage and also thinking about our place and role in the world, and meeting the needs of the new generation—it’s been exciting to be a part of that.
What are you up to now?
I am the proud co-owner and CEO of Sunde Fjord Hotel, my family’s business. Since July, I’ve been learning how to run a hotel, taking exams, and obtaining the correct permits. I’m learning a whole new industry. Now the world comes to me, and I’m learning about all kinds of people and cultures—it’s pretty incredible. It’s also been fantastic to spend more time with my parents.
The natural beauty. I took it for granted, growing up here, and I see things with a different eye after living abroad for decades. I get to see panoramic views of two fjords and snowcapped mountains, and northern lights during the winter months. We’ve already had the first northern lights of the season!
Being in nature and near the fjord is something I treasure.
If we go to Ålesund, what should we see or do?
There is so much going on here. In the town park, there’s a statue of the Viking chieftain Rollo—just like the statue that is in front of Kringen Lodge in Fargo, North Dakota. [Both statues are replicas of the original in Rouen, France, and were made to commemorate the thousandth anniversary of when the Vikings settled Normandy in 911 A.D.] Fjellstua is an overlook that you can reach by climbing 418 stairs from the town park. You can hike up further to a restaurant that allows you to see a stunning view of the surrounding islands. There’s an awesome aquarium—you can watch divers feed fish and learn about all kinds of sea life. Atlanterhavsveien [The Atlantic Ocean Road] is nearby, and the Geirangerfjord, which is a UNESCO heritage site.
There are many interesting museums and lots of jazz bands from Ålesund.
What are some regional foods to try?
I have to say bacalao—it’s very unique. It’s made with cod, olive oil, tomato paste, potatoes, and onions, like a fish casserole. Being on the coast, we have a lot of fish dishes.
There are many sweets, too. I went to a recent birthday celebration where there was a
Sunnmørskakebord—it’s when everyone brings desserts and there’s a huge of table full of sweets to try.
This is changing as people are getting more health-conscious, though. My favorite cake is probably Tropisk Aroma, because my dad always used to make it for birthdays. It’s kind of like a chocolate cake.
Another typical food on the West coast are Sveler. They are little pancakes that you enjoy with coffee when taking a ferry across the fjord.
What have you missed about Norway?
Friends and family. Both are so important to me. I’ve missed the mountains, the ocean, fjords and water. Being out in nature. You don’t have much time to think about it when life is happening, but that’s the gist.
What will you miss about the U.S.?
People are so outgoing and friendly. It’s so easy to strike up a conversation, even standing in line at the grocery store. I’ll miss my friends, family and Sons of Norway members that I’ve gotten to know. You always miss the part of your heart that you leave behind. And then you want to come back and visit!
Favorite Norwegian word:
Koselig! [a blend of “coziness, warmth, lovely togetherness”] Even in the summer, there are candles everywhere here.
Favorite English word:
Working at Sons of Norway, there are so many awesome things going on. I wish more people knew the great things our members do, and not for the sake of recognition. This is one of the things that I’ve loved the most about Sons of Norway and its partner organizations.
Favorite Norwegian food:
Fish. And any kind of seafood. I like to try different things, but my dad makes steamed cod with white curry sauce with potatoes and vegetables, and it’s amazing. Is it lunchtime yet?
Anything else you’d like to add?
I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to work at Sons of Norway. Getting to know members, working with officers at every level, and being a part of the conventions is something I will treasure for the rest of my life. The organization and its people will always be a part of my heart.