Wednesday, September 4, 2013

2013 reunion of our Vrboska, Croatia forebears!

Honorable Milanka Opacic
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Social Policy and Youth
Republic of Croatia

Dear Minister Opacic:

It is a pleasure to follow policy developments in Croatia. I am in the 5th generation of Vrboska, Hvar immigrants to the United States. II am a social worker and adjunct college professor with training in comparative social policy (masters degree and doctoral study at Columbia University, New York).

A friend and social work colleague does strategic planning for the Open Society in New York City. I follow the Open Society Mental Health Initiative on Facebook. I was impressed by the posting today. While a doctoral student, I spent much time in Zurich, Berlin and Rotterdam visiting agencies working with people with AIDS, substance use and mental health services immigrant and lgbt services. Open Society finances a number of initiatives on drug policy in particular.

 My undergraduate students  and my graduate students in NYC come from a broad swath of nationalities and comparative social policy is important to them. Students of mine have done internships in the Dominican Republic, Peru, Pakistan and London.  I am happy to share the website of your Ministry with the current cohort.  It is a joy to have undergraduates from Dalmatia in recent times.

This summer the family of siblings, cousins etal of my maternal grandmother  held a reunion. There are so many pages in the online family history book from the reunion showing much love and caring. I cannot imagine the voyage of our great-great grandparents with 7 children taking the boat to the United States and starting a new life in Chicago, Illinois. The family males made money diving in Lake Michigan and the Chicago River, some were musicians, and some ran a tavern (with a live bear). There are so many cousins which includes a Chilean branch, and a popular contemporary musician in Chile. What a legacy from little Vrboska!  For multiple reasons so many emigrants from Hvar, named "heaven" in a recent BBC series, into the world. 

I am happy to share an interest in policy and advocacy on mental health issues with my Mother. She was the mom of 9 children and found time to advocate for people. On her death she was given a memorial by the State of New Jersey for her advocacy. I made a short video on YouTube about her life.  The link is:  My undergraduates critique the video as a memoir qua method. 

Thank you very much for reading through my email. It is a pleasure to see the development of good services and know of the spirit of advocacy in your ministry. Thanks also to your many staff and colleages who are making a difference in the lives of others. It makes me proud of my Croatian legacy (25%, 75% Irish). 

Best wishes.

Sincerely yours,

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