We went on this trip because of a desire to visit a new country and to learn about its history and culture but most of our fellow travellers were there for another reason. At least 24 members of the group had Polish ancestry; they were not into genealogy at all but just felt a need to travel to the land of their ancestors.
A couple of the group had done some prior research through their local libraries and one had engaged a professional genealogist to help trace his roots. Some of the group already knew of cousins in Poland and had arranged to extend their visit to meet up with them while others came on the trip just armed with the name of a town and a hope that that could visit and find some connection with their heritage. Sadly those that did not do much preparation were likely to be disappointed. One of the town names that was being sought was common to three towns in different regions of Poland and our poor guide was at a loss to give assistance in this case.
A few things struck me after spending time with this group:
1. There is a market for Find your Roots tours to Poland.
2. Any genealogist with Polish roots would do well to join an organised tour like the one I did as they would be likely to pick up a bit of work from the US tourists in the group (our group had 29 North Americans). I did give Lisa Alzo's details to one couple from New York who want their genealogy explored..
3. Only two members of the group could communicate in Polish but many knew about and cooked Polish dishes.
4. Although they don't do genealogy many people are interested in the people, places and stories connected with the lands of their forefathers.
5. One must do homework before heading off to foreign lands in search of ancestors.
|Cemetery in Zakopane, Poland|