We're delighted to welcome Karen Hägele to our German team. She replaces Silvia da Silva, who recently went on maternity leave. We wish Silvia much health and happiness and look forward to her return next year. Karen now shares her family story, to which many of us can relate.
Back to my roots: from Brazil to Germany
As a small child, I remember using certain words that my friends didn’t know. For example I called my grandmother Oma and my grandfather Opa. I could count from eins to zehn and my favorite nursery rhyme was Backe, backe Kuchen. At night, I wished my parents Gute Nacht, and at Christmas we ate Stollen (a kind of fruit cake), baked, of course, by my grandmother.
We were the only ones in our neighborhood to have a real Christmas tree with real candles instead of "blinking stuff," as my Granddaddy used to say.
All of that would have been quite normal had I not been born in Brazil.
I have now been living in Germany for many years, and I still remember, how great it was to finally see what I previously knew only from stories. I was in the land of my grandparents, who left Germany shortly before World War II, because of the difficult economic situation.
But as in many similar cases, I felt I was becoming alienated from my own identity. What I thought of as "my roots," was quite different from the reality. In Brazil, I was German; in Germany, I was Brazilian. However, I soon adjusted to my new home.
In Cologne, I studied linguistics, which helped me learn more about the theory behind the language, sociology, language use and acquisition. It was also great to meet other students with similar backgrounds. This helped me to learn a lot about myself, and helped overcome the initial sense of not fitting in.
Following my studies, I began working, got married, moved to Hamburg and gave birth to my first daughter, Sophia.
And this is where MyHeritage comes in.
Sophia received a wonderful gift from her paternal great-aunt: a family tree. I thought it would be nice if she also had something from my family, and I began to write my history for her. I called my mother, asking for help, and I got started. My tree isn't very big. I never met my father’s father and I don't know much about that side of the family. But it was enough so that Sophia knew a little bit about her origin - our Brazilian roots.
Although sometimes it is difficult to belong to two cultures, it is a crucial part of who I am. I'm flattered and honored to be a citizen of the world.
Now, I'm here to replace my colleague, Silvia da Silva. Silvia and I worked together at Verwandt.de, acquired by MyHeritage in 2010. I remained within the parent company, but unfortunately genealogy was no longer a part of my job anymore. That’s why I’m even happier to be part of MyHeritage!
We wish Karen the best of luck in her new role.
Do you have a similar story in your family of someone moving to the land of their ancestors?