Here at MyHeritage, we are privileged to receive the help of many volunteer translators, who help make our site accessible to our users in their native languages. We were recently delighted to meet one of our Russian translators - Yana Gourenko - when she visited our offices.
Yana, 29, and her husband live in Moscow, Russia. She studied translation at university, graduated as a translator in English and German, and also speaks a little French. She works for a forensic company doing technical support. Her interests include traveling and meeting new people. She is also an amateur photographer and loves the sea!
We asked Yana a few questions about her own family history, and how she came to translate for MyHeritage:
Where did your love for languages come from?
My love for languages started at school where I began learning English from the second grade. Three years later, I chose to learn French and fell completely in love with learning languages. Without any hesitation, I entered university aiming to become a translator in English and German.
Continuing our spotlight on volunteer translators, we introduce Torbjorn Wolden, a MyHeritage member from Norway, who has been helping to translate MyHeritage products into Norwegian for the five years.
A young genealogist, Torbjorn became interested in his family history in elementary school.
We did a project where we would make our own family tree (which I still have) and show it to the rest of the class. My grandparents also had a bygdebok (a local history book) for the parish, where all the farms and everyone who had lived there are listed, and I used to look at this and see how long my family had owned the farm and how long they had lived in the area.
Torbjorn has traced back his family history to the mid-1500s to the Trøndelag and Nordmøre regions in Norway. While most of his close family still lives in these regions, he has discovered distant relatives in Sweden; the US; Rotuma, Australia; Denmark and Switzerland.
Anna’s family journey to meet relatives in Australia continues. In this post, she discusses Oskar’s life, and looks at his decision to suddenly move to Australia.
The other day, David and I spoke about Oskar and his initial trip to Australia, the decisions that caused him to leave Sweden and what he may have encountered on the journey. There were still unanswered pieces that we can only speculate about. We have no information on his voyage, who he met or about his first journey.
What we do know, however, is that a significant event influenced Oskar’s decision to leave Sweden. An event that changed everything and added an entire branch to the family tree that would not otherwise have existed today.
We recently wrote about the fascinating Secret of Ereikoussa, where the residents of a small Greek island risked their lives to save a Jewish tailor’s family from the Nazis during WWII.
In November 2013, Emmy Award-winning writer, producer and author Yvette Manessis Corporon contacted MyHeritage to ask for help in finding the descendants of the Jewish tailor - Savvas from Corfu, Greece - who had been hidden on Ereikoussa during the war. She had written a book inspired by her grandmother’s memories of the island, and the story of Savvas was an important part. For Yvette, the story was incomplete and she wanted to discover what happened to the family after the war.
MyHeritage accepted the challenge and embarked on a genealogical journey to uncover the mysteries of this long-kept secret. Starting with just five first names (Savvas, his three daughters Spera, Julia and Nina, and another child - Rosa) we were successful in locating descendants of the family in the U.S. and in Israel. Last month - at an official island ceremony - the families reunited to honor the island's residents for their courageous efforts.
Continuing our spotlight on volunteer translators, we introduce Seppo Tarvainen, a MyHeritage member from Finland, who has been helping to translate MyHeritage products into Finnish for a few years.
Born a few years after WWII in a small village in the middle of Finland, Seppo grew up with a passion for travel. He studied mechanical engineering, which led him and his family around the world on various work projects. Now home, he began looking into other hobbies, such as genealogy.
My parents had a lot of family history information, but they died before I had the opportunity to properly interview them.
About four years ago, Seppo came across MyHeritage’s Family Tree Builder and began adding the information he had and building his family tree. The number of individuals increased, so he soon upgraded to a PremiumPlus account.
I kept getting even more Smart Matches, and my family tree kept growing.
Today, his family tree has over 44,000 people. Through matches to other MyHeritage members, he discovered ancestors dating back to the late-1500s. Some ancestors remained in the region, while later generations emigrated to the US, Canada and Australia.
We recently wrote about the start of Anna’s journey to meet her relatives in Australia. A journey that really began 125 years ago, Anna crossed oceans to meet relatives related to their common ancestor, Oskar. Here is Part 2.
In late December 2012, several relatives in Gotland, Sweden received a call from a man speaking English. Many hung up the phone and thought it was a hoax. They didn’t understand why an English-speaking man was calling them.
After many disconnected calls, the same person called my cellphone on December 30, 2012. David Michel said he was calling from Sydney, Australia.
Imagine going on a journey back 125 years and across continents. That's what Anna, from Sweden, will be doing as she flies across the world to Australia to travel to her ancestors' towns and learn about them.
Anna will be documenting her genealogical trip to learn more about her roots on her blog. Here is her first post, originally published on our Swedish blog.
I'm nervous, excited, tingly and happy, and a bit fearful to be going on this journey. However, there is a huge difference in traveling now than in 1890 when Oskar decided to go on his journey. He left his job, family and friends for an adventure filled with uncertainty in search for something new. Today, that level of fear isn't as necessary with all our technologies that connect us to our family no matter where we live. It's easy to stay in touch with our loved ones, unlike 125 years ago.
Her post continues:
Continuing our spotlight on volunteer translators, we’d like to introduce Ulla Plon, a MyHeritage member from Denmark, who has been helping to translate MyHeritage products into Danish for over a year.
Born in 1952 in Copenhagen, to a Danish mother and a father who was a Jewish refugee from Vienna, Ulla spent her first 10 years in the suburbs. Later, she moved with her parents and younger brother 50km north to a small town on the coast near Elsinore, the setting of Shakespeare’s immortal tragedy, Hamlet.
Since she was a child, Ulla was always interested in her family history.
“I loved it when my mother and maternal grandmother told me family stories and about their own childhood.”
When you think of a genealogist, what does that person look like?
An elderly person, perhaps? Someone who has lots of time on their hands and for whom family history research utilizes that time?
Think again – this is the story of young Swedish genealogist Erik Elkan, 19, who proves that genealogy is a pursuit for everyone - regardless of age.
Thousands of people in Sweden - and everywhere else around the world - have, at some point, sat down and looked at old family photos. Many have looked deep into their closets and cupboards for family belongings; some have been more successful than others.
The important thing for Erik - as one of that multitude - is the moment when something completely new about deceased relatives is discovered, he says, whether it is in a dusty photo album or a hand-drawn family tree that has lost almost all its color.
Weddings are only one part of our family's love stories. There are the stories of how people met, and the stories behind these relationships connect us to our family and their lives (and loves).
Christina Mellgren from Sweden shared the heartwarming story of her aunt Sigrid and uncle Malcolm, who finally got together after meeting 30 years previously. It is a truly inspiring love story of how love endures.