You are invited. Travel with me to a heritage travel experience to Southern Sweden with my friend Rich Wemstrom. No passport is required. Examine in this cyber travelogue how he uniquely, personally, and artistically brings genealogy to life.
Rich claims the trip, “ touched me to the extent I felt RESPONSIBLE to pass on the legacy I have gathered and now treasure.”
Heritage traveler, Chicago resident Rich Wemstrom proudly displays a photo of himself standing next to the Vemmenhogsen Creek in Skane Southern Sweden. Following 11 days of intense travel, Wemstrom assembled a self-published book. Excepts are generously shared here. (Notes by Patty Wemstrom Giovacchini)
Rich, claims his travels helped change his life for the better. Words he uses to describe the experience: “joyous, fulfilled, connected, inspired, proud, and newly educated.” Wemstrom’s trip became a journey of self-discovery motivated to leave behind a written legacy.
One takes a close look and admires the genealogy treasure he has captured in just one prize photo of grandchildren displayed in his book.
“I stood there at the cobble shop building in the small town of my great grandparents realizing that the family history I was closely examining represents struggle necessary for emigration that ultimately benefitted me. It was a moving experience.”
To prepare for his heritage journey Wemstrom did his ancestral homework and hired a research consultant to verify his genealogy finding. He did his own trip planning but hired a Swedish expert escort in order to efficiently connect to his target destinations.
Immigrants who left sweden struggled. Wemstrom explains the class system: “statdrang”.
Modern psychological theory suggests that investigating one’s past informs a sense of identity and confirms one’s place in contemporary culture, geographical and historical space.
Family histories can link with our ongoing psychological ‘project of understanding the self’, including the relationship between the ‘selfie’ and family photos of old. It is worth considering that family history narratives might have a therapeutic benefit with potential to influence our wellbeing.
Some heritage travelers return home simply with memories never forgotten, others return with that and much more. Seeing, and feeling how others live and go about life can truly influence someone and the way he or she choose to continue life. It can push someone to live more intentionally, and live with a better understanding of self.
Note: Wemstrom’s journey described here will be featured in a forthcoming article by the author in a print issue of Swedish Press magazine.