Emily Tepe – Swedish American of the Year 2015 from Tommy Hellström on Vimeo.

This summer I had a great surprise, and a great honor. The Vasa Order of America gave me the Swedish American of the Year Award. It came as a true lift and I am quite grateful to the Vasa Order for understanding my work and seeing its value.

Please watch the video above and you’ll get a good idea of the glorious week in Varmeland, Sweden, that we had in July. It was created by Tommy Hellstrom and I send him my heartfelt thanks.

Thanks to the Swedish Migration Center and the two Swedish lodges of the Vasa Order, this was a week that I will remember always. Erik Gustavsson and his wife Eleanor hosted many dinners, concerts, and other memorable activities. And Connie Gron of the Vasa Order and her husband Einar were together with them as our glorious hosts. One of the highlights included a voyage on the Gothenburg ship, and a concert that I gave overlooking the boat and the harbor in Karlstad. And it was an incredible feeling to be united with my dear friends and mentors again in Sweden.

Here is more official information about the award: the Swedish-American of the Year is appointed by the two Swedish districts of the Vasa Order of America. The Vasa Order of America is a Swedish-American cultural organization founded by Swedish emigrants at the end of the 19th century. It was founded as an Order and initially functioned as a help organization for newly arrived Swedes, but has evolved into a cultural organization with member lodges across the United States, Canada, and since 1924 even Sweden.

The distinction Swedish American of the Year has been awarded since 1960 to U.S. and Canadian residents. Since its inception, more than 50 prominent individuals of Swedish descent have received the award, including astronaut Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, actresses Signe Hasso and Ann-Margret, Nobel Prize winner Glenn Seaborg, Chairman of the Supreme Court William Rehnquist, and entrepreneur Curtis Carlson.

Must to my surprise, I am the youngest recipient of the award. Certainly an honor that I will look forward to growing into.