By Taralyn Parker

taralyn author pic

Do you remember your favorite class? What made you love it so much?

Strangely enough, I can’t remember the title of one of my favorite classes in college. I thought I loved writing/reading before I took the class, I knew I was hopelessly addicted to the written word after I took it.

This professor didn’t merely stand in front of the classroom and tell us about literature. We experienced it. “Reading This Is Just To Say” by William Carlos Williams while eating plums turned poetry into a multi-sensory experience. Non-traditional at its best, we shared our final papers in the desert on the outskirts of our college town. Standing on red, craggy rocks, we shared our final papers before tossing them into a bonfire. This teacher understood the stress of finals as well (and had a second copy).


In this class, I learned to examine writing from all sides. Looking at the historical context, dissecting the meaning of words, learning about the author’s life – I saw there was more than one way to look at a poem or any writing for that matter. This was often done through the roll of a di. Our teacher brought in a ginormous di and wrote a task for each of the six sides on the chalkboard. In one class, we might take a quiz, close our eyes and listen to a recording of the author, make our own poems with word magnets, or go outside and take turns orating beneath the trees outside the English building. The order we did it all depended on the roll of the di. 

This class fueled my love of learning that continues today. There is so much to learn and even better, experience! Because of that class, my eyes are open to learning/experiencing life in as many ways as I can. One of my favorite opportunities to learn is coming up next month, Rootstech. Rootstech is the largest family history conference in the world with 1500+ sessions available online for free! It’s coming up March 3-5 2022. 

Rootstech is the largest family history conference in the world with 1500+ sessions available online for free! It’s coming up March 3-5 2022. 

Now when I mentioned “family history,” did your mind go to family history in what one might consider a traditional sense? Researching your direct line back to the 1500s typically involving illegible documents and microfilm?

Family history is so much more than that (although I love the thrill of breaking through a family history brick wall!) Family history is savoring chicken pesto for Sunday dinner because you worked with your grandparents at their Italian restaurant as a teen. It’s adding color to and animating family photos. It’s posting family photos and stories to social media. It’s reading historical fiction based on the time period/places your ancestors are from. It’s wearing your grandmother’s jewelry. It’s visiting your ancestor’s hometown to walk in their footsteps. It’s getting records translated and discovering your ancestor’s occupations and fun facts about their life.


Family history is experiencing who you are and where you came from in whatever way that speaks to your heart most. I love that Rootstech helps me discover new ways to do this! One year, I logged onto Family Search during Rootstech and discovered that a family member had uploaded audio files of my great-great grandmother reading her poetry. Last year, I participated in Relatives at Rootstech (a fun way to see if you are related to your friends!) and connected with distant cousins who shared life histories of our shared ancestors. Sixty pages of stories about my 2nd-great grandparents – priceless! Every year I learn something new and make connections that bring me a lot of joy! So whether you are curious about your DNA, want to connect with your ancestral homelands, or are just wondering what to do with grandma’s photo albums that you inherited, Rootstech has short and fun sessions for you that will be available all year! They are between 4 and 20 minutes long – perfect to pop on when you are waiting in the carpool line or doing a load of dishes.

Will you join me this year and discover how you “do” family history in a way that brings a little more joy into your life? Sign up to learn more and get notifications here: You can also check out my recap of my Rootstech classes last year:

What is your favorite way to experience family history or learning? Tell us in the comments!


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