How do you tell a potential relative why you are looking?

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Re: How do you tell a potential relative why you are looking

Postby PeterTimber » 11 Feb 2008, 23:06

Derar Lilbees the letter says That my motives for writing is to reconsturct the familyhistory, visit Sicily and know the land of my forefathers. I have no intentions of reclaiming land or property from anyone. I just want to know where I came from.


This is a literal translation and while it has merit I thinK ecveryone here is making operas out of sonnets. Your sending money is to encourage a reply and nothing else.... " =Peter=
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Re: How do you tell a potential relative why you are looking

Postby johnlabarbera » 11 Feb 2008, 23:06

Alternatively, you could do this...

I am trying to complete my family history and also find living relatives in Salaparuta. I am doing this because I am interested in my heritage and perhaps touring Sicily one day. I think it would be interesting and fun to meet living relatives.


Sto facendo delle ricerche storiche giá che sono interessato in sapere da dove provengono i miei antenati, trovare dei parenti a Salaparuta e vorrei anche imparare un po di piú del mio patrimonio.

Proggetto anche visitare la Sicilia qualche giorno per vedere il paese a conoscere la gente. Credo che sará interessante e gradevole conoscere parenti ancora vivi.
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Re: How do you tell a potential relative why you are looking

Postby johnlabarbera » 11 Feb 2008, 23:09

Master Peter, everyone is entitled to their opinion including you let's not douse the fire of interest and communication here!!! :-) ps- I like Opera
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Re: How do you tell a potential relative why you are looking

Postby PeterTimber » 11 Feb 2008, 23:22

Dear John I like opera and have not said anything to douse the fiire and interest of communciation about writing a simple letter to a potential relative in Sicily who never left home. Put yourself in his **SPAM** and think what would you think if you received a letter telling you that that someone in America has no intention of taking your home away from you???=Peter=
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Re: How do you tell a potential relative why you are looking

Postby Sirena » 12 Feb 2008, 00:50

I think the second version of the letter is better. I wouldn't refer to property at all. If I received a letter like the 1st I'd be suspicious as to the motive.
I wrote to my grandfather's brother using an address that was 40 years old...I thought maybe his son would answer. I also included a picture of the family - my grandfather's parents & brothers. Little did I know he was the babysitting on his mother's lap and he was still alive -being 20 yrs. younger than my grandfather. He had moved away from the village but when the postman saw the American stamps, he left it at a house of someone that was still in contact with him. He responded right away and we still communicate.
I think you'll get a friendlier response not mentioning land.
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Re: How do you tell a potential relative why you are looking

Postby PeterTimber » 12 Feb 2008, 04:06

Dear John and as for the $5.00 it shows that you are considerate and generous in giving of yourself to him whether he needs it or not since it isimportant that you hear from him. Think of the positive psychological effect this has on people, particularly family. =PETER=
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Re: How do you tell a potential relative why you are looking

Postby liviomoreno » 12 Feb 2008, 10:34

John, 5$ is peanuts and offensive. Don't send money.
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Re: How do you tell a potential relative why you are looking

Postby johnlabarbera » 12 Feb 2008, 12:45

If it were just me receiving the letter, and I am 100% American born and raised, a self addressed stamped envelope or equal would be a very kind gesture and encourage a quick reply. Mention of not taking land would be suspsicious and my first thought would be that it is some sort of a scam.

BUT the reason I asked the question was to get the perspective of the Italian/Sicilian mindset and better understand the culture and possible thinking they may have. I know people around the world are VERY different than me and most Americans. I want to do whatever will give me the best chance to get a reply.

I agree, at the end of the day, if they are interested they will respond. If there is any chance money will offend them as my Italian friends told me then I will certainly not do that. As far as the land issue, it is great to know that may be a thought by some of them, I would have never thought about that, but perhaps mentioning that in a letter creates more suspicion than it solves.

Here is what I plan to do and I will tell you all how it works out....

My letter will include the second version of the explanation and also provide key details of my research so they know I am legit. I will include a photo of my beautiful famiglia. I also will include a paragraph that refers them to a local Sicilian with his phone number so if they have questions they can call instead of having to write right away. My local friend told me sometimes Sicilians prefer to call first than write. I also included a simple sketch of the main characters in my family tree.

Thanks to everyone who replied if you need to see my letters let me know I have English/Italian versions I can post. Grazie!!!

ps- Peter, you were the first to ever help me on IG and I appreciate that very much!!! Look what you started!!! lol
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Re: How do you tell a potential relative why you are looking

Postby PeterTimber » 12 Feb 2008, 14:18

Dear Livio the $5.00 is not offensive and shows concern for the other persons to whom the letter and money is sent ;that you are concerned about abusing his hospitality in writing to him and asking him to write back. Further it shows sincerity and desire to communicate at your expense in asking him to reply. The Southern Italian mentality is "gentilezza" here not offense. =Peter=
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Re: How do you tell a potential relative why you are looking

Postby Gina501 » 12 Feb 2008, 15:23

Livio lives in Italy and knows the people and culture the best. I would ALWAYS trust his opinion. He has never given me anything but great advice.

John, I have written many letters to Italy in the past year. I have been very successful with that. I have found that my Italian cousins are very savvy, even the ones in the small towns and prefer to answer you with email. Even the older ones write that way. They get someone younger to respond for them. Like I said, I have had great success.

Good luck John. I'm sure you will make many connections.
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Re: How do you tell a potential relative why you are looking

Postby BillieDeKid » 12 Feb 2008, 16:01

liviomoreno wrote:John, 5$ is peanuts and offensive. Don't send money.


I agree 100% with Livio. And I reinforce what Gina says too.........Livio has always guided me and provided me with valid information (as he has done for many others). I would take Livio's advice.
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Re: How do you tell a potential relative why you are looking

Postby elba » 12 Feb 2008, 22:29

liviomoreno wrote:John, 5$ is peanuts and offensive. Don't send money.


I'm with Livio on this.... I married an Italian and I've lived among them in rural areas now for a considerable number of years. Any offer of cash would be misconstrued as would any mention of family property or land. Both matters if raised in a 'first contact' would get you off onto the wrong foot and will almost certainly be considered an affront.

Just introduce yourself John and then ask them humbly if they think that they might, by any chance, be related to you. Arrogance will not be the way forward in this situation...
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Re: How do you tell a potential relative why you are looking

Postby Poipuo4 » 13 Feb 2008, 00:03

Brava, Elba...very sage advice! I wish you the best of luck, John. It is a beautiful thing when you are reunited with your distant family.
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Re: How do you tell a potential relative why you are looking

Postby Essgee » 13 Feb 2008, 00:06

John...........

You will have to let us know how it goes!

By the way, have you ever thought of just phoning them? Guess it would help if you had an Italian speaker with you, but I tried it and it worked.

Just a suggestion.......may not work in all cases.

I sent a print out of the family tree when I wrote so they would know the lines of family....might work for you along with the photo as well.

Good luck!
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Re: How do you tell a potential relative why you are looking

Postby johnlabarbera » 13 Feb 2008, 01:51

I actually have a Sicilian friend in town, he lives in Venezuela but is working here in town for a while, he was born and raised in Sicily. I will likely get him to get with me one day and we will make some phone calls. But I thought sending the letter first might give them a reference point. His last name is Rizzo if anyone is researching that surname!
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