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Immigration is the story of people and places, but we often forget how diverse these stories are. Instead, we focus on general pictures and the archetypical immigrant’s story as representative of millions of people. Similarly, it is easy to imagine the story of Scandinavian immigration to the United States as always being tied to the American West, envisioning families working their way to Illinois, Minnesota, or even further to the Pacific coast. But this is not the full story of the 2.3 million Scandinavians who came to the United States in the 1800s and early 1900s.
Björn Kjellström’s motto, printed onto his business card, was: “Magnetism had shaped my life.” While not the inventor of orienteering itself, Björn was the co-inventor of the modern compass and likely the person most responsible for the sport’s global spread. We might even say that Björn Kjellström has shaped our appreciation for magnetism as much as it shaped him.
2018 has been a year of momentous elections in Sweden and America. As newly-elected representatives decide upon issues of immigration, social policies, and globalism, we reflect upon the histories of progressivism and human rights that have pushed both countries onto the world stage today.