Wendy Vergoz’s project was to explore her identity through researching her genealogical roots. Those roots were in Brest, a city in the Brittany region of France. “I was surprised by how at home I felt in France, how much I loved the French language and culture, how much I feel in love with the French people.” She took a bus to Plougastel-Daoulas and found a cemetery with some Vergoz graves. On the trip back to Brest, she got off at a remote stop named Ty Armor and walked to the area called Le Vergoz. “I cannot describe what it was like to see the sign 'Le Vergoz'—to see a route which dead-ends at the beach leading out of the harbor and to the Atlantic Ocean,” she said. Next, Vergoz met with an archivist in Quimper, France. There, she discovered her 6x great-grandparents' marriage document circa 1720, and the 1722 birth/baptism document of her 5x great-grandfather. She also recalled having dinner in Limoges with a man her brother met on social media and who bore a strong resemblance to her own father. Eventually she learned he was, in fact, her cousin. “These experiences fundamentally changed how I view myself and the world,” Vergoz said. “I feel profoundly connected to France and moved to write about my life-changing experience.”
3,000 photos, 13 mini-journals, and a slew of maps and bus schedules later, Vergoz returned to Indianapolis. She called the experience “energizing,” and it was clear to see why. She has already written 8 poems based on her French journey, and has completed a full-length poetry manuscript. This “vivid, dark, and yet ultimately hopeful” piece, titled The Unbinding, has been accepted for publication by Wipf and Stock Publishing, and will detail a woman’s journey of “finding her way through and out of a twenty-year marriage of domestic violence, as well as her continued unbinding from trauma.” The creative renewal experience has also inspired Wendy to return to graduate school to gain the skills and credentials needed to build a stronger Creative Writing Program at Marian University.