In an interview not long ago, I was asked several thought-provoking questions:
- “What is the value of knowing our family history?”
- “What is there to gain from understanding our past?” “
- “What did you learn about yourself by learning about your ancestry?”
- “Did knowing about your 8th great grandmother’s life change anything in your life?”
It is not difficult to answer the first two questions: Understanding your family’s history forces you to broaden your horizons. It expands your thinking about the world and makes you more appreciative of the different forces that shaped your life. It is not to be taken lightly because sometimes the search can unearth stories that should probably remain untold or mysteries that still need to be resolved. The search, however, is certainly worth the effort.
The last question was the easiest. I can say that definitely, knowing about Jeanne’s history certainly has changed my life! As has the pursuit of learning about her life. I have had marvelous adventures, met some incredible people, faced some rather large challenges because of my still-debutante-level French, and lastly made a decision to move to France!
But what have I learned about myself? That question requires more reflection. I know I take greater pride in my French and French-Canadian roots. After four years in France, I know I can adapt, continue to learn, grow, find dear friends, set down roots and meet the challenges of living in a foreign country with what I still consider an intermediate facility with French – even in my 8th decade!
I would love to hear how readers would answer these questions. What is the value of knowing your family history? Has knowing about your ancestry change anything in your life? Please post a comment if you are willing to share your experiences!