American family trace their South Wales roots at mine
AN AMERICAN family on holiday in Wales retraced their roots by visiting a Rhondda mine.
Mila, Erica and Jeroen Visser ’t Hooft travelled more than 5,000 miles from Berkeley in California for their trip to South Wales, the home of their ancestors.
They are keen to learn more about the area and have a keen interest in Welsh culture, and visited the Welsh Mining Experience at Rhondda Heritage Park.
Jeroen, 15, had even competed previously at the National Eisteddfod of Wales in Llangollen with his school choir.
“We had a great time in Wales, especially at the Welsh Mining Experience at Rhondda Heritage Park, where we learned so much about the story of coal and the history of Wales as a nation,” said Mila.
“Jeroen was already familiar with the area, having been to Wales previously and singing about the 1984 Miners’ Strike and the hardships encountered by families in the area at the time.
“The Black Gold Experience was out of this world and is something that will stay with us for a very long time.
“Our trip was very meaningful, especially since Jeroen has sung about it, and with our ancestors coming from South Wales.
“Our family emigrated to America in the 18th century, like so many other families at the time, to escape the poverty in Wales.
“Since coming to Wales, and since our visit to the Welsh Mining Experience, I feel I now understand more about my family roots. It was a trip I will never forget.”
The family has since returned home to Berkeley, which is situated on the eastern shore of San Francisco Bay.
Councillor Ann Crimmings, cabinet member for environment and leisure, with responsibility for visitor attractions, said: “We are so proud to have The Welsh Mining Experience at Rhondda Heritage Park, right here on our doorstep, telling the fascinating story of the coal industry that made the Rhondda Valley so famous across the globe.
“Coal mined in the valleys of South Wales was exported around the world on a daily basis – millions of tonnes of coal.
“The collieries may be long gone, but the story of coal will live on and I am delighted that the Visser ’t Hooft family have taken so many cherished memories home with them.”