by Dana Saxon
A little more than a year ago, I made my first visit to R.B. Stall High School in Charleston, SC. It was months after launching a partnership that would introduce 9th graders to Ancestors unKnown. I spoke with a group of students about accessing their histories and determining their own legacies. I got the feeling we were all equally inspired: I became more certain of Ancestors unKnown’s mission; many of the students became intrigued by their ancestors’ untold stories. Some students even lingered after the presentation to ask additional questions.
Last week I was in Charleston to introduce a new group of students to the concept of time traveling from their pasts to their futures. I had the opportunity to spend a full day with students at Stall, sharing Ancestors unKnown, some of my research journey, and creative exercises to get them thinking about their own ancestors. It might have been enough to plant some more seeds. Because I saw plenty of enthusiasm when they heard we’d be teaching them to uncover their family histories.
In addition to my visit, we were lucky to have a former Ancestors unKnown student join us in one of the classes. Now in 10th grade, Carlos proudly shared his family tree with the group, explaining the importance of knowing his family’s history. He didn’t prepare anything to say – just spoke from his experience.
A year after my first visit to Charleston, I see not only the mission, but also the sustainability of Ancestors unKnown. If we could deliver the message and curriculum to students last year and see those same students deliver that message in an even more convincing way to a new group of students, we’re doing something right!
It’s been an honor to see the Ancestors unKnown program grow and thrive at R.B. Stall High School. Stay tuned for information about our newest partnerships that will launch this year!