Wide view of white house with upper floor and balcony; clothes hang to dry on balcony; two men sit on chairs in front of house.

Meeting Macedonian Family

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By Elaina Joncic

Elaina 1
A neighbor (left) and Elaina’s grandfather (right) chat outside the house in Bitola, Macedonia, on Tuesday, July 1, 2008. They’re waiting for dinner to be ready.

I’ve lived in America my entire life. My parents and grandparents were immigrants. My father’s side immigrated from Serbia, while my mother’s side immigrated from France. I am half Serbian from my father and half Macedonian from my mother. Both countries used to be a part of former Yugoslavia – along with four other countries.

I traveled to Macedonia and Serbia back in 2008 with my family. I was so excited to meet my family members and get a glimpse of life in my country.

My grandparents were considered “wealthy” since they immigrated to the United States and would fly back home every summer to visit friends and family. As soon as they passed away, we sold the house. I miss the memories we shared there and feel sad when I look at this picture. I miss it so much.

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Elaina photographs the Monastery of Saint Naum in Ohrid, Macedonia on Thursday, July 3, 2008, near lake Ohrid. It was founded and named after Saint Naum.

While we were there, we visited The Monastery of Saint Naum in Ohrid. This is one of the most popular tourist destinations in all of Macedonia.

While I was in this Monastery, I purchased a prayer rope bracelet. These are composed of 33 knots – representing thirty-three years of Christ’s life in the Eastern Orthodox religion. It comes in a variety of different materials and colors, and can be purchased in most of the Orthodox churches. When I have this bracelet on, I feel protected.

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Elaina wears a prayer bracelet on Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019 in Washington, Michigan. She should wear a prayer rope bracelet on her left hand until it falls off.

The best part about this trip was meeting new family members and friends. They took me everywhere and taught me so much about our culture.

Group of 10 youth and children smiling at photo, some with arms around each other. Night outside.
Family and friends take pictures before dinner in Bitola, Macedonia on Tuesday, July 1, 2008. This is the first time the American side of the family hung out with the Macedonian side of the family.

These are moments I will cherish for the rest of my life with people I will never forget. I hope one day I will be able to travel back home and see everybody again. I look at this photo and wonder if any of them ever think about me or ask how I’m doing – I ask my parents about them all the time.

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