Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Dispatch from Eastern Europe

I’m in Riga, Latvia today at the request of the Office of the National Coordinator, explaining the HITECH act and the US national HIT strategy to experts in the European Union 2015 EU-US eHealth/Health IT Cooperation Assembly.

My mother was born in Latvia and left in the 1940’s, so 2015 seemed like a great opportunity to visit her birthplace together and have a Latvian translator at my side.  

We’ve walked 15 miles each day this week, exploring Old Riga, Central Riga, the countryside, the national forest, and the waterways of Latvia.  I think I have exhausted her.

My father was from the Czech Republic with family roots in Poland and Germany.

My mother’s family roots are in Poland and Russia.

Walking around Eastern Europe I have the distinct sense that I’m with my people.

They have a love of mushroom hunting, I’m one the US experts on wild mushrooms.

They have a love of beekeeping and honey production.   I’m a beekeeper.

They have a love of nature and a spiritual link to the land/seasons.   As a farmer, alpinist, and believer in shinto, I feel the same.

The local traditional foods - pickled vegetables, soups,  high fiber breads, freshly brewed local beer, and seasonal wild berries, are my soul cuisine.

Although it would be very difficult to maintain my Harvard appointment, my commitment to my staff, and my farming duties in New England, there is an allure to living a bucolic life in rural Eastern Europe.     Maybe a 13th century castle?

A great week with my mother and sharing the US eHealth experience with others.

Many memories were made and great people met, but for now, I have miles to travel and promises to keep in Boston.

1 comment:

Justin Mitchell said...

Thank you for sharing your experience. As someone who spent a great deal of time in Russia/Eastern Europe and loves those cultures, I love hearing about others' experiences, especially when they are positive. It sounds like this was a fun visit (even if it was mostly for business).