“No matter what happens in your life, your family is the most important.”
I walked away from my first day of RootsTech feeling all kinds of emotions,but the greatest emotion I felt today was inspired.
“Family History is the joy of connecting ourselves to our ancestors,” said Dennis Brimhall, CEO of FamilySearch. “It's moving, it's exciting, and it's completely sharable. We all have a curiosity about something from our past. For most people, it's simply the joy of discovery.”
During a Sofa Chat, Brimhall gave us advice on how to get others engaged in Family History. He says you can’t just tell them to “sit down and do it”. You have to draw them in with something. He talked of a picture he found of his grandfather dressed in cowboy attire. That picture was so amazing to him, that he had it framed and shared it with others. That small act drew others in and wanted them to know more about this amazing cowboy in the picture.
More people around the world than ever before are feeling inspired by their family and ancestors.
- This year’s RootsTech had participants from every state, and from 35 different countries.
- In 2012, RootsTech had 3,000 registered participants, 4,000 in 2013, and 13,000 in 2014. Over 20,000 people are registered to attend RootsTech this year, and with the worldwide online audience that number is close to 200,000.
- 100 million names were indexed last year from obituaries by 319,000 volunteers, which resulted in1.3 million names added to FamilySearch daily.
- Because of the partnership with Ancestry.com, 80 million Mexican Vital Records will be indexed by the end of 2015. Without Ancestry’s help, this would have taken 40 years using just FamilySearch's indexers.
When asked the question “Who inspires you?”, many people named a person in their family: their grandmother, their children, their father. An experiment was done in New York City by MyHeritage which allowed people on the streets to discover their ancestors and family members. It was inspiring to see the joy in people’s faces as they discovered their family history within seconds.
Inspiring keynote speaker Tan Le told of two women in her life that inspired her: her mother and her grandmother. Her voice and selection of words were like poetry and drew the audience in, leaving us wanting to hear more of her story.
At a young age, they fled a refugee camp on a tugboat and migrated to Australia. Her grandmother had poison prepared for them to drink should they be captured by pirates. In Australia she was teased daily and told to “go back home”. “But where is home?” she thought to herself. Life was not easy for a grandmother, a mother, and two young daughters living together in a small home. Women without a man in their lives were frowned upon, and couldn’t advance in society like those with husbands could. This did not discourage them, and made Le the strong, confident woman she is today.
Tan Le is definitely one of the people that have inspired me at this year’s RootsTech, and her words will stay with me and shape part of my life. She talked about living a “sheltered” life, and when she won “Young Australian of the Year” at age 20, she was pushed out of her comfort zone and into circumstances where she didn’t feel like she fit in. She felt that because of the opportunities she was given, she had a responsibility to push herself out of that comfort zone in order to make a difference and be part of the change in the world for good.
Her mother’s advice in dealing with these instances was to “Just do it, and don’t be what you’re not.” As the founder and technology innovator of Emotiv, this advice has had a profound influence on her life.
She had the audience in tears when talking about the strong connection with her grandmother, and how they held her hand and stayed with her for hours after she died. The monk that came to close her casket noted that even though her body had gone cold, her hand was still warm because “you have not let go”.
It was obvious by the standing ovation at the end of her story that we all left feeling inspired by Tan Le and the amazing strength she has drawn from strong family roots!
I am ready and excited for what day two will bring tomorrow! Stay tuned…