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From Chapel Hill to Croatia, WRAL OnLine Helps Connect Two Worlds

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CHAPEL HILL — Imagine standing on a street corner in Chapel Hill waving, live, to a friend in Croatia. An Orange county woman, searching for her roots in the Balkans, did just that last week using WRAL OnLine's newRoboCam.

Janet Sammi uses the Internet to trace her genealogy to Croatia. Using the Internet, she found a friend there to help.

"And I just wrote 'Does anybody know of the name Reskovac? I'm doing genealogy research.' Many people there speak English so he saw the note and responded," says Sammi.

"He" is Tomislav, also an Internet user, living in Rude, which is not too far from the village of Ruda, the home of Janet Sammi's grandfather.

Tomislav sends pictures of his homeland to Sammi over the Internet. Monday, they exchanged messages about the presidential funeral in Croatia.

Sammi really put the power of the Internet to use by dialing up WRAL OnLine's RoboCam, which is situated along Franklin and Columbia Streets in Chapel Hill.

"I told him to look for us at 2:30. You know, which spot, so he did," she says.

Tomislav called up the live pictures from RoboCam, and e-mailed them to Sammi. She also sent a voice message over the Internet, talking on a pay phone while on Franklin Street.

"So he was watching us and listening to a voice message," says Sammi, who has gathered lots of information about her grandfather, Marko Reskovac, who immigrated to America in 1904.

Her adventure, with Tomislav's help, has been rich.

"It just gave me a great appreciation for what my ancestors have done, and also an appreciation of another culture," says Sammi.

Next June, Janet Sammi and her husband will travel to Croatia to visit Tomislav and his wife. They will also travel to Ruda, the village of her ancestors.