Family Stories: Teach and create memories

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Family Stories: Teach and create memories

When we attend conferences, we hope we’ll bring something home that changes our perspective and provides new ideas and opportunities to try new things – or change others – to make progress on our personal family history goals.

If a family history or genealogy conference provides that experience, we are fortunate. However, if we attend an event that opens our minds to countless new ideas, new areas of interest and new methods of researching, then we’re not only merely successful, but that experience can be considered a game-changer.

Steve Anderson

Such was the Story@Home conference held March 9-10.

Generally, I attend an event, come home with knowledge that makes me a better genealogist and person. But following this most recent event, I came home with an entire list of speakers’ names, stories, and faces etched into my brain. Not just one speaker – but all of them – shared their stories.

From the beginning, as Steve Anderson – Family Search’s marketing director –introduced David Rencher – Family Search’s chief genealogist and keynote speaker – the event was filled with memorable stories. David spoke of great successes in finding not just one cemetery full of ancestors but a whole weekend of discoveries. Every time he turned around, another person said, “Oh, that’s my line as well.”

Carol Rice – CEO and founder of CherishBound (the producer of Story@Home) – related her experiences in recording her family stories. She spoke about the women in her family, and through pictures and books, the birth of her company.

Popular blogger C Jane Kendrick and her husband Chup put on a lively show – discussing the “upcoming” Story@Home conference when, in reality, they were already there. They discussed how and what they would present. They “decided” to tell the story of their last child’s birth at home with no midwife or other medical staff present and the special moments they shared together. They truly demonstrated the power of story in sharing their own family history.

Syd Lieberman Storyteller

Syd Lieberman Storyteller

Syd Lieberman – a world-renowned storyteller (and typical father) – told us of his wonderful daughter – and slouch of a son. He walked us through heartfelt stories of both relationships and how each grew over time.  These stories will forever be remembered by that audience.

The next treat – and a bit of a shocker – Kim Weitkamp arrived onstage talking about food and making fun of herself for being overweight, saying if you can’t beat it, join it.

She discussed memories of her tiny (skin and bones) mother trying to hug her and sitting on her lap was almost painful. She described the overwhelming lap of her enormous aunt who, when she held you on her lap, your siblings weren’t sure if you would make it back alive. Kim stressed that her stories, though powerful and funny, are much more, and that her stories heal.

Carol Rice and Kim Weitkamp

Carole Rice and Kim Weitkamp at Story@Home 2012

She related that – in sharing her stories – she see couples become closer and families repair broken relationships. The stories we record and share become our family history.

The day continued with other memorable presentations, each etched in my mind and those of everyone else.

Friday was a day of consecutive sessions held in the same auditorium – all attendees were there at the same time – and the show presenters also spent an hour demonstrating how to write our own stores.

On Saturday, there were many more sessions. Stories – and ideas – were shared at each session.  All of which focused on the finding, recording and sharing of family stories – family history.

Why was this conference so different from the rest?

I’ve barely touched the surface of the sessions I attended and could go much deeper into each without looking at my notes.

Why? Because stories teach – as each presenter stressed. Stories create lasting memories, and I remember the stories of each presenter. Some of them are among the best storytellers in the world – and each shared emotional, powerful stories to be remembered.

Kim Weitkamp telling stories to an overflow audience

Kim Weitkamp telling stories to an overflow audience

Their stories shaped my memory of the event, and have created a desire to seek out the stories of my own ancestors and develop them to share them, learn from them, and help change other people’s lives in the same way the stories from the conference have impacted me.

Mark Olsen

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