Nearly everyone in America is a descendent of immigrants. That is one of the things that makes Americans such an interesting people. Our ancestors came from everywhere, and combined their religions, foods, music and habits into a new whole.
When I was a little girl, my third-grade teacher gave us a project to interview a grandparent and make a report on the country our family came from. I talked to Grandpa Sabatka, and he said he was Bohemian. Most of the other children had countries like Germany, England, and Sweden that were easy to find on the map. I searched in vain for Bohemia.
Finally, my teacher pointed out Czechoslavakia, saying that it was made up of several small countries, with Bohemia on the western end. I didn't much like the way my country had been treated, but I made my report. I learned it was a good little country, famous for its beer, sausage, crystal and porcelain. It looked beautiful with its mountains and many trees.
Imagine my surprise when I actually had an opportunity to go to the country of my grandparents, over fifty years later. My cousin Leland had visited there in 1991, and kept up a correspondence with many relatives, some whom he had actually met on that trip or when they visited the USA. Our grandma Anna had seven siblings and five stayed in the Old Country. Leland was in contact with the descendents of two of them, Marie, Milan and Stanislav were grandchildren of Julia, and Helena was the granddaughter of Zophia. Leland wrote me that he was planning another trip and wanted some of the cousins to join him. I told him to count me in!
Our itinerary was designed by Cousin Stanislav. Like a 5-star general, he planned every minute of our visit. He arranged who was to be our driver, our translator, where we were to visit, to eat, to sleep. Even when Leland fell ill, he made arrangements for our party to be in two places at once, with the required drivers and translators. We were able to see so many important sites, and meet so many wonderful people, without any difficulty at all, which we could never have done without his leadership.
That's how I found myself sitting around the table with my Czech cousins, day after day, in this little village and that. We were sharing meals and ideas and stories. I related to them the story of how I once had been unable to find Bohemia on the map, and what a thrill to be able to say, "Now I'm here."