Overseas Journey Changes Lives of
Local Traveler and her Roots
Marroquin, Art. "Overseas Journey Changes Lives of Local Traveler and her Roots." Daily Bulletin, November 1996.
A Rancho Cucamonga woman's simple desire to trace
her German-Russian roots to ancestral villages in Ukraine and
Moldavia, recently became a mission of love and mercy.
Barbara Horn gave more than she received during
her summer excursion, handing out toys to needy children and equipment
to undersupplied medical workers and teachers.
"The economy is very depressed over there since
the breakup of the Soviet Union, but I have a strong emotional
attachment to those areas and I wanted to help in any way I can,"
said the 57-year-old.
Horn was one of 85 German Russian descendants from
around the United States who visited their ancestral villages
from June 17 to Aug.5 as part of a goodwill tour called "Journey
to the Homeland: Germany and Ukraine" hosted by North Dakota State
Local businesses and companies donated goods ranging
from books and paper to soap and perfumes which Horn took to give
"The airlines were gracious with us, too, because
you are only allowed a certain weight of packages and we had so
many supplies, but they let us bring them on," Horn said.
Horn handed children bubble gum, toy cars and small
dolls as she walked through the villages.
"All the children were very polite and weren't
pushy with each other, and they all said thank you in Russian,"
Horn said. "The elder ones looked out for the younger ones instead
of pushing past them because they all knew we had enough for everyone."
Horn and other members of her travel group wrote
down the names of children in Ukraine and Moldavia to link them
to pen pals in the United States.
"I made a lot of friends I'm going to keep in touch
with, but I just have to learn some Russian so I can communicate
with them," she said.
Horn has recorded her family history based on the
stories her grandmothers told her as a young girl. During her
trip, she visited the once German-occupied villages in which her
grandparents lived before immigrating to the United States. Many
Germans moved their families to build farms around the fertile
area of the Black Sea, dating as far back as the 1760's.
"My ancestors founded two of the villages over
there, and that was really exciting to see," Horn said. "It gave
me a special feeling to walk into the churches were four generations
of my family had been baptized, confirmed and married."
While in Glueckstal, Moldavia, a village one of
her ancestors founded, Horn stayed in the home of the city's mayor.
"We sat up all night and drank wine and talked
and compared our cultures and lives," Horn said. "It was amazing
to see how much we really did have in common, like some recipes
we both have, even though we live in different countries."
Horn said the tour directors from North Dakota
State University will continue to send supplies to the children
in Ukraine and Moldavia.
"I think to see the emotional reaction of these
people with these roots and how the trip has affected their lives
is the most important thing," said Michael M. Miller, tour director
and professor at North Dakota State University. "I will continue
to schedule trips like this because it's such a special time."
Anyone interested in going on a trip similar to
Horn's is encouraged to call Miller at (701) 231-8416. Anyone
who would like to donate school supplies or toys to Ukrainian
or Moldavian children is asked to call Horn at (909) 987-0435.
Reprinted with permission of the Daily Bulletin.