I don't know where to begin explaining my reflections on my time at RootsTech 2015. It was such an honor to be asked to be an Ambassador and promote the RootsTech conference. Throughout the conference I kept asking myself, "Why me? Why was I asked when there are so many other more renowned with greater audiences?" Several times during the conference I was actually asked these questions by different people. I don't remember how I responded, but whatever the reason I was asked, I am so thankful to have participated and gained a greater understanding of how family history works in my life.
Now, in case you don't know, RootsTech is the largest family history event hosted by FamilySearch.org. I walked the halls with avid genealogists from all over the world and of varying religions. I met people that were just beginning their journey in family history. It is a place for everyone to connect, learn, and share their family stories. The exhibitor's hall was filled with hundreds of organizations and companies ready to help in making the family history journey easier. Each time I passed the Italian booth: (Museo del Cognome) I wanted to stop and visit, telling them how much I love Italians from John's and Whitney's missions which in the end seemed silly so I would just walk slowly by wishing my Italian was conversational.
I tried to get a panorama so you could see how huge this convention was at opening . The conservative estimate given was 21,000 people onsite and the number would rise to 300,000 from people participating in local history fairs and online. The conference was translated into 10 languages live and there were roughly 183 different fairs around the world. What an awesome event!
If you were unable to attend you can watch most of the classes and general sessions here, for free. I wasn't able to attend many of the classes that are featured here so I really appreciate being able to go back and watch some additional presentations.
There is so much I want to share so I think I will just go in order... or at least try because really this recap will be all over the place.
WEDNESDAY: There was an entire day of conference set aside for innovators and technical people. There were a few classes about blogging that I was interested in, but it was already a challenge to leave the children for the other parts of the conference. My day started with a media dinner where we received instructions and an overview of the conference and keynote speakers. I came home with the theme from Elder Foster's talk, "Why did Lehi's children have to go get the plates?" penetrating my heart. I thought about my own children and their desires to participate in family history and the youth callings they have received to help teach others.
Arnold had sent me a text earlier in the week saying that she had been able to prepare 13 more names of ancestors to take the temple. Here she is away at college and is still making time to bind our family together. It was very humbling to me to think that my children are adding to the puzzle that is our family.
I learned that night that I am considered a "lifestyle blogger". I didn't know there were classifications, but it's fun to have one in case someone asks.
Paul Nauta (our fearless media leader for RootsTech and FamilySearch) used the term "INTERGENERATIONAL SELF" in his opening presentation. I love that! As Storytellers we create and transmit our family history on a daily basis and adding to the "exhibit of me" (which is an underlying theme of the FamilyDiscoveryCenter... you can see my post here if you missed it.). Paul talked about the study that we used for the "Do You Know kit" and how children have a greater sense of belonging, self-control, self-esteem, and confidence if they know their family history.
"They know they will survive because they know their family stories of strength and survival." (Paul Nauta)[if I wrote the quote wrong sorry.... I was writing as fast as I could]
How this resonated with me! I am constantly looking for ways to help strengthen our family and what a simple way that I am missing. I write our stories here, but my little people who don't read our stories thus missing a vital part of their lives. The rest of the conference I found the answers, inspiration, and ways (ideas) in which I can help our family. As well as a few more ideas for our family history folders as well.
- Mom and Dad (they took a selfie and sent it to me one morning before the conference started. I loved being able to attend with them.)
- Paul Nauta (tour of the exhibitor hall)
- Mariel Wangsgard of Or So She says (She is a mother of 6, home schools, runs a successful blog and on top of all that organized a group of 30 bloggers to share their testimonies in a packet that she includes when someone requests a copy of The Book of Mormon. My favorite book!
- April Sorboorne and Melanie Day of Sugardoodle.net (two women I have had the honor to work with and now call my friends.)
One of the things I loved most about this was meeting new people and reconnecting with old friends. What a blessing in my life to be surrounded by people who lift and inspire me! These RootsTech reflections/posts will be filled with these special relationships and photos. I haven't been in this many photos since.... I can't actually remember.
THURSDAY: (as you can see it's going to take a few posts) started with an opening address [which you can watch here] by Dennis Brimhall, CEO of FamilySearch. He started with the theme of our family being like a puzzle and how we each hold a piece of that puzzle that adds to the great picture. I really enjoyed his example of adding to the "Museum of Me" and creating a rich and full portrait of who we are and who our ancestors were.
As I was sitting down to lunch on Friday, Paul asked if I was interested in participating in a "sofa chat" with Dennis Brimhall, to which I responded, "Who is he?" I am so terrible with names and was so embarrassed when I had to be reminded. I declined, because I had no idea what I would ask and I felt so silly over my blunder. However, and thankfully, I overcame my awkwardness and sat down and listened to a wonderful man talk about the direction of FamilySearch and the impact the youth are having on linking the generations. I was so inspired by his wisdom and insight. Dennis answered questions I didn't know I had. Thank you for the encouragement Paul.
If I only attended RootsTech was to hear and become acquainted with Tan Le, then it was worth is. Her voice and words are poetry. The strength in her immigration story had me in tears. She interwove her puzzle pieces masterfully. You can hear her inspiring story here (starting at minute 59). The strength and wisdom she learned and imparted from her grandmother and mother filled my soul with memories of my own mother and grandmother's immigrant story. I was reminded of the heritage that may "have crushed us, but we endured."
"Just do it and don't be what you're not."
"It is okay to be an outsider.... always new on the scene. And not just okay, but something to be thankful for, a strength, a special sort of freedom, a gift from the boat."
"Now I would like to have my own children and I wonder about the boat. Who could ever wish it on their own? Yet, I am afraid of privilege, of ease, or entitlement. Can I give them a bow in their lives, dipping bravely into each wave, the unperturbed and steady beat of the engine, the vast horizon that guarantees nothing? I don't know, but if I could give it and still see them safely through, I would." (Tan Le)
I want this for my own children. What will be their boat? How can I help guide them and keep them safe?
to be continued.....