We often come across stumbling blocks in our genealogy research, such as an old letter in a language we don't understand, a mysterious family photo in which we cannot identify the people, or a particular ancestor for whom we cannot find any information. Help from others can make all the difference in breaking through these genealogical brick walls.
"MyHeritage Community" is the name of a new, much-needed Questions & Answers hub for our users to collaborate and help each other in typical genealogy quests such as locating long-lost relatives, translating historical documents, deciphering illegible handwriting, identifying unknown people in photos, or searching for elusive ancestors. It's built as an image-oriented forum, integrated into the MyHeritage website (so you don't need to sign up separately for it), it can be a game-changer for your research, and it's totally FREE.
As a leading place for families around the world to discover their family histories, it’s thanks to our many hardworking volunteers that all of MyHeritage's products and features are available in 42 languages.
Last month, we featured Yana's story. This month we spotlight another volunteer who makes it easier for families worldwide to build, preserve and share their family heritage.
Kaarina May is one of our Finnish volunteer translators. Born in Finland of Karelian heritage, Kaarina completed her folk school education in Helsinki and began work in an advertising agency. Before starting her apprenticeship as a layout artist, she received six months' leave to go traveling.
She went to England to improve her language skills and immediately met her future husband, Terry, and never returned to Finland or her apprenticeship. Kaarina began work in a London travel agency and qualified as an agency manager, trainer and internal verifier. She eventually moved into education, and earned a Cambridge University Certificate for Teaching English to Adults.
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.
This month, we are spotlighting MyHeritage volunteer Airton Minchoni, who has been helping to translate MyHeritage products into Portuguese (Brazil) during the past year.
Born in southeastern Brazil, he moved as a teenager with his family to the northeast. The distance caused him to lose contact with some relatives, but he took advantage of every visit to his grandparents' home to learn more about his family history and his grandparents' generation. That was the start of his family history journey.
Most genealogists have received help during their genea-journeys.
Perhaps that help came from a family member, another researcher of the same name or place, an archivist or a librarian with a family history interest. No matter the source, it is always good to receive assistance.
Family History Month is celebrated during October and, although it has just ended officially, here are some thoughts on how genealogists can provide help to others all year long.
As researchers, I believe we also have an obligation to pass that help along. Can we assist a genealogy society member with a sticky problem to which we may have a solution? Have we helped a young member of our family with a school project? Have we made an effort to appreciate those who have assisted us?
I was quite busy during October. My genealogy activities included writing posts for our MyHeritage Blog, genealogy society meetings, answering emailed questions about my areas of expertise (Spain and Belarus), and assisting others hoping for answers to questions about international archives and locating researchers to find records.
However, my most rewarding time last month was volunteering at a local rehabilitation center/nursing home.
We'd like to make a special, public thank you to our friend John G. M., a volunteer who recently took care of all the missing translations in Hindi, making it possible for millions of people to use MyHeritage to build and share their family history in this language.
This was a big task for which we are truly grateful.
We want to take this opportunity to thank all our volunteers for their translation assistance, which helps millions of people around the world to discover more about their family history.
If you are interested in becoming a MyHeritage volunteer, please send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org indicating the language or languages with which you'd like to help.