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Writing from Ljubljana

March 17, 2019
by Mark David Siegel

Hi everyone, We reached Ljubljana yesterday evening after a four hour drive from Parma, returning to the same walk up we rented last year, nestled on a cobblestone street, near the river, amidst coffee shops, bakeries, restaurants, boutiques, and a church. The week‘s plans are modest: reading, strolling, shopping at fruit and produce stands, taking a day trip or two, and enjoying some good meals before heading to Milan on Thursday to start the journey home.

We spent the last few days in Northern Italy, where the daffodils are blooming, the fields are turning emerald, and the air is faintly scented with tree blossoms. We pursued culinary adventures around Parma, Bologna, and Modena, bopping about in a blue BMW. The adventures gave Heide sophisticated insights into Italian desserts, like the benefits of whipping egg whites longer than you thought necessary to make the perfectly textured zabaglione, or adding brown butter to enrich your sbrisolona. For me, I finally made the connection between Parma and parmigiana, and I now know that “balsamic” vinegar isn’t fermented in balsa wood. I learn by association with a master chef, whose worldview and interests are utterly distinct from my own.

I’m far from home, but not totally. In the hours before the girls wake up, I make French press and read the New York Times and Washington Post. The peace and the pace of life in this part of the world couldn’t differ more starkly from the awful stories in the newspaper: yet another gun massacre, this time against our Muslim brothers and sisters. Why the xenophobia? Why the hatred? Why seek to destroy a community different than yours instead of cherishing its beauty?

We grow when we surround ourselves with diverse people and cultures. Take our residency. The incoming intern class is a rich mix, in part because we make it so. This year we will welcome interns trained in Iran, Greece, Peru, Denmark, and Mexico. Many of our newcomers were born abroad, representing India, Iraq, Barbados, Nigeria, South Korea, Latvia, China, Egypt, and Canada, in addition to the countries already mentioned. Our incoming interns span the whole United States, not just the coasts but many states and small towns in between. We even have interns born in New Haven, North Haven, Norwalk, Hartford, Derby, and Bridgeport!

Diversity enriches us. It creates opportunity for talented young physicians. It brings novel insights and opinions into our work and challenges our ignorance. It transforms entrenched notions about what doctors should look like. In the mixing, we become better than the sum of our parts. We send the message that we should embrace difference, not avoid it. We should cherish diversity, not destroy it.

I’m now three cups of coffee and two bowls of vanilla yogurt into this Sunday and it’s time to go explore Ljubljana and meet Heide and the girls at a sausage shop. I don’t know what the day will bring, but I’m hoping for a little sun, some time for contemplation, a stroll around town, a sip of raw milk (it comes in automatic dispensers here), a delicious meal or two, and some beautiful pictures to snap.

See you soon,


PS Pics from the trip,


Submitted by Mark David Siegel on March 17, 2019