Travelling to the homeland of your forefathers will bring your family history to life, and enable you to appreciate what makes you unique in this world. It is an emotionally enriching trip after which we are never the same person.
Once you give us the go-ahead then we begin by researching your family history, working with genealogists, historians, archivists and other specialists throughout Europe. We then sketch out a personal itinerary for you based on the results. Tell us your wishes and we will define the organizational arrangements of the trip.
I attach great importance to a truly first-hand and immersive experience.
I will take you to the most significant places for your family and organize meetings with relatives, neighbors and local researchers. I will strive to show you the artifacts from your ancestors’ lives such as original documents from the archives and personal objects.
From this trip, you will not only bring home memories but also a legacy for your heirs such as a commemorative album, a family tree or even a biography about your family.
Twenty years ago, I travelled to Argentina to meet relatives of mine and I became fascinated by the migration history of my own family.
My great grandmother Gizela left Prekmurje after WW1, leaving behind my grandmother, Jolanka, who was an illegitimate child. My grandmother was 6 years old and she never understood why she was left behind. My grandmother stayed with her uncle Andrej. She kept in contact with her mother, who formed a new family in Argentina and had two more daughters – Ema and Emilia. We always called them “half-sisters”. Later Emila told me that my great grandmother – her mother – never smiled, that she never saw her happy, and that she had always felt like “some part of her is missing” since leaving Jolanka behind in Slovenia.
So, one part of my family was living in Argentina. We were very connected. In the 80s and 90s we listened to the recorded tapes they sent us, wrote letters and my grandmother and Emilia talked on the phone each week. My grandmother always expected them to come to Nemčavci – a little village close to Murska Sobota in northeastern Slovenia. She even built an extra room onto her humble farmhouse. She never had a lot, she was very humble, she never bought more than the necessities. I remember she would only go to the shop to buy coffee, sugar and biscuits. Everything else she grew at home. She was very hardworking and had a very strong personality. I never saw her crying.
My grandmother always told me to learn Spanish, so I could go to Argentina to meet our family. Since only Emilia learned “prekmurje” dialect from her mother Gizela we could only speak to Emilia. By the way Emilia had a completely different character to my grandmother – she was open, optimistic, liked to dance, liked to talk, loved Slovenia and her heritage. She was also a member of the Slovenian Club in Buenos Aires. But despite always dreaming about going to the land of her ancestors she had never visited Slovenia.
Eventually I learned Spanish in secondary school and in 1997, when I was 18, I flew on my own to Argentina. I had such a desire to meet the family that we had always talked about that I tricked my father and told him that I was only going for 7 days. When the lady at the checkin at Ljubljana airport told him that my ticket was for two months he almost had a heart attack.
I just loved to travel and I never worried about anything bad happening. Perhaps this is why nothing bad ever did happen. I only ever had good experiences.
When I arrived in Buenos Aires, Emilia and her family were waiting for me with balloons and signs – BIENVENIDA MANJA! Next day one of Emilia’s friends Ana took me to the national television studios and they interviewed me there. Emilia didn’t know anything about this. It was all part of a surprise for Emilia and Jolanka – the reunion of the “sisters”. After my interview, the television company decided to send Emilia to Slovenia to complete the surprise.
The Argentinian TV show, which was called SORPRESA Y MEDIA, organized and filmed everything. They sent Emilia and Fito (her husband, also of Slovenian descent) to Slovenia to meet her sister Jolanka. They took Emilia to the church where her mother Gizela was baptized, she could finally see the villages of Prekmurje, talk to locals in the dialect she learned from her mother, drink “špritcer” at Baranja…and last but not least hug her sister Jolanka in the courtyard of her humble house in Prekmurje, while she was coming out of the barn unaware of the surprise.
Words cannot describe how happy we all were.
And for me suddenly everything made sense and I got the whole picture about my ancestors and relations between my grandmother and my mother, and my mother and me… now I understood why my grandmother never smiled, never hugged us, never knew how to express her feelings, why everything was a battle and why she passed that to my mother… It was that feeling of abandonment.
That is why I understand the need of the ancestry research and knowing what led us to what and who we are today.
Researching people’s family trees became my passion and I started organizing ancestry tours.
Once, during a group tour of Slovenia with some American tourists, a couple asked me to help them find their relatives in a remote village. We trawled through parish registries and other sources which enabled us, eventually, to identify their entire family tree. The next step was to organize a tailored itinerary for them through Slovenia. This culminated in a visit to their ancestors’ village and emotional introductions to their new-found relatives.
It was an eye-opening moment for me and I became interested in “small history”, the history of ordinary people, their everyday lives and what motivated them to take that huge leap of faith which led them to the New World. Over the last 15 years I have helped dozens of American clients discover their ancestral history and distant relatives in both Slovenia and Croatia, even when the only available data were their grandfathers’ name, or a vague recollection of their place of birth.
It is the most personal of ways to travel through space and time, and eventually you are enriched with a better understanding of yourself, the history of your family and the intricacies of European history. Because history is not just about big names, famous generals or magnificent palaces. It is made up of the lives of our distant relatives, drops in the flow of history which help us to understand it better.
Find out how we can help at no added cost to you.
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