South Atlantic


Orange Park Medical Center

Document Type

Visual Art


Eastern Europe; Romania, Poland, Krakow, Bran, Kryzowa, heritage, wellness


Like other physicians and medical students, I have my own family origin story. It has taken the majority of my life to gather the energy, impetus, courage, and resources to trace it back, partly as a personal quest to understand why I grew up feeling so different from those around me. In early fall, my husband and I had the good fortune to travel to Romania and Poland, to visit our paternal grandparents' respective towns, including identifying their houses. We are the only members of our immediate families to do so.

It was simply impossible or unthinkable for our grandparents to go back nor did their children wish to, having achieved the formers’ quest for “a better life” in the US. What were only abstract words or stories heard in childhood, became cherished memories, and finally meaningful and beautiful places, with their own historical and complicated etiologies in a part of the world frequently overrun and contested between Hungarians, Saxons, Swedes, Cossacks, Daci, Ottoman Turks, and Mongols. I now understand where my strong survival instinct comes from! Our grandparents emigrated before WWI, sparing our families the direct trauma of the wars. Our trip’s significance increased on meeting several Ukrainian refugees, starting the latest paths of European immigration across land constantly traversed. History is often bloody, uncomfortable, and uncontrollable, but ultimately necessary to know ourselves as a people and work perpetually toward peace. I now understand where my mission comes from and have my own peace and joy for experiencing it.


1. Strength and Form- horse carts are common in rural and suburban Romania

2. The Road Not Taken - a thatched roof modern home in rural Romania; there are no highways in Romania

3. Saschiz with fortified church and Citadel, Carpathian Mtns, Romania; A UNESCO World Heritage Site

4. A view from Biertan Fortified Church, Romania

5. Cistercian Abby Ruins, 12th Century, Carta, Romania

6. Cistercian Abby Courtyard with WWII Memorial Gravesites, Carta, Romania

7. Brazov Square, Romania

8. Steps to Bran “Dracula’s” Castle, Bran, Romania

9. Courtyard, Bran Castle; Bran, Romania

10. Warsaw to Wrocław Express

11. First glimpse, my PGF's village, Kryzowa, SW Poland

12. My PGF's first home, Kryzowa, SW Poland

13. The Old City, Krakow