videos and slides were put together, he got to do some practice runs for youth groups organized by friends of mine. (Thanks!) But as we were walking in, I realized--if I hadn't before--how much it was entirely up to him now and I had no say in what was going to happen. That moment when a mother lets them go... And Matthew has decided to be the stand up comedian of Family History. He had a couple of jokes in there that I was a little nervous about but we survived. He talked about how if you use a picture of a potato with MyHeritage's face matching technology it doesn't work so well. And he had a slide where he explained how on FamilySearch you are contributing to one big tree, but on Ancestry and My Heritage it was just your own tree. He kept referring to the one big tree as being like communism. Try as I might we couldn't find anything to replace that joke. But it always gets big laughs and that works for him. Even if I don't appreciate it so much. At least he understands the concept I guess.
So the room filled with about 400 kids (twice) and HE NAILED IT! He did so wonderful. He went slowly enough, his audience stayed with him, and I think he really taught them something: the difference between a conclusion tree and actual sources, an introduction to what the three big sites offer, and search strategies for looking for real data about your ancestors. One lady wrote me an email afterward and said, "I recently attended several days of the RootsTech conference, and the class Matthew presented on finding your geezers was by far the best. I brought my teenage daughter with me today for the youth event and this was the class she and I decided to attend together. This one class was well worth the entire registration fee for the conference. I cannot thank you enough for spelling out the similarities and differences in the various websites and their software. Your class was clear and concise, humorous, and highlighted all the right areas. Thank you for showing the ~how~ of finding ancestors, and making it accessible and understandable to my daughter."
It was truly the biggest payday of my genealogical career. So much more than anything I have accomplished, to see him so confident and knowledgeable about his own family history and how to do real research with real sources was so wonderful. And that's what it is really all about isn't it? As a mother, I truly feel that raising successful confident kids is the most important work I will do in my life. And Family History is such a great tool for that. In the weeks since the conference, I'm amazed at the peace and self-posession that has settled into him. And our relationship throughout this process has improved 10 times over. I don't think that is just because of the experience of the lecture--I really think it is largely because of the topic. Family history work gives kids the self assurance of who they really are and what they can become. And that is the greatest thing a Mom could ever hope for. This whole exercise has been very real proof in my life of the power of family history to strengthen youth and strengthen the family relationships they have.
Three years ago I brought my pre-teens to Rootstech and they were the only kids there. A couple of people even gave me a hard time about it. My how times have changed. The crowds were wonderful at the conference this year. I think the final count came in around 13,000 with about 4,000 of that being youth. Kudos to FamilySearch for bringing this all about. We passed out paper dolls at the booth from our new activity books. It was crazy busy and so much fun. I never even got a chance to get any good pictures around the conference. But I did snap one of the booth. Or the backs of the people at the booth anyway.
|Both of us with our speaker tags.|
Family ChartMasters blank charts and gift cards too. We're nothing if not supportive of efforts to help youth learn about their family history around here. :)
Matthew has been scheduled to teach at another local family history fair in Pleasant Grove in March and at the Family History Conference in Ogden in September. He has submitted to a couple of other conferences as well. I've passed on a few of the conferences I usually do this year so that I can do some more development. But he is taking up the torch. Exactly how it should be.