Dentist immigrated from Romania

Andrea Csok (pronounced “choke”) emigrated from Romania, a European country somewhat larger in square miles than Ohio, with her family when she was 12 years old. She told me that came to this country by way of the green card lottery, which her mother had won.

After graduating from The Ohio State University with bachelor’s and Doctor of Dentistry degrees, she is now an associate in Dr. Dennis Benton’s dentistry office in Cortland. She also became a U.S. citizen.

Csok’s hometown was in Transylvania, in the north of Romania, nearly surrounded by the Carpathian Mountains and close to the Hungarian border. The family wanted to come to the United States to improve their standard of living.

“Romanians look up to Americans,” Csok told me.

Their living conditions were poor. They lived in her grandmother’s house, typical of all the village houses. It consisted of three rooms on a plot of ground surrounded by a tall, gated fence in which lived a guard dog. Within the fence, they grew a vegetable garden, chickens, pigs and rabbits.

“Food there was fresher, organic and tastier than most American food,” Csok said.

Their meals were often goulash, chicken paprikash or stuffed cabbage, with sour cream and paprika in everything.

Gypsies were a common reminder of the poverty of the country. Csok told of personal experiences with them.

Once a gypsy boy at a street fair saw her throw away a half eaten lollipop and he dived into the trash bin and came up licking the candy. Another time, a young gypsy begged for money, a coin. He said, “I’ll spit on you if you don’t give me one!” She hesitated until she saw him gathering his phlegm. She quickly produced the coin!

In contrast to the poverty in much of the country, Romania’s natural beauty supports a tourist industry, drawing people to the mountains for skiing, snow boarding, and trout fishing. On the Black Sea in the east are many popular vacation spots, where Csok said, “Beer is cheaper than water.”

In the south of Romania are oil fields. The Nazis in World War II satisfied their petroleum needs for aircraft and armored vehicles from them. The U.S. Air Force, from bases in North Africa, bombed these fields to deprive the Nazis of this resource.

Recently the Romanians have upped their petroleum production to meet growing demands, benefiting the country’s economy.

The family is important in the Romanian culture, as evidenced by retirement and death benefits that the government provides and two years of maternity leave for mothers. Csok’s father, an architect, was accidentally killed on a job and she is still, after 14 years in this country, receiving benefits.

Csok married a year ago June a handsome Hungarian man whom she had met at Hungarian events in the Cleveland area. She was finishing her doctoral work when they became engaged.

They went home to Romania for their wedding. Four of her friends went along to be her attendants. Before the ceremony, she in her bouffant white dress and all the wedding party went to the cemetery where her father is buried so she could pay her respects to him before the nuptials and the festive reception afterwards. Yet another example of the importance of family values.

Andrea Csok has led an exciting life, living on two continents. She has a pleasant personality, is easy to talk with, and was delighted to tell her story. She has made a smooth and productive transition from a rural environment to a more prosperous, urban society in the United States.

In this day of controversy about immigrants, she is a shining example of good citizenship and productivity they bring to our country.