BANGKOK, Thailand– They were complete strangers, but it instantly felt like a family reunion.
One week before I departed for my first international reporting trip, my grandmother Cece and my great aunt Karen casually drop to me on Facebook that, oh by the way, I have relatives in Thailand.
Now I’m from a long and proud line of auto factory workers, mechanics and nurses from Flint, Michigan. But other than trips to Canada, I was one of the few people in my family to travel and live outside the U.S. since our ancestors came through Ellis Island. Or at least I thought.
So to learn that I have Thai relatives was not only a major revelation, but one that profoundly altered how I view my family in the world.
But the facts were fuzzy at first. I wasn’t exactly clear how my little branch of the tree spanned to this corner of the world.
So I sent a Facebook message and a few days later I was off to meet these mysterious family characters in the bustling city of Bangkok.
Sara Stogner and Dacia Saenz are currently reporting from Thailand for “The Cost of Gender,” a documentary exploring transgender health care discrimination in the US and why Americans are traveling abroad for better options.