Saturday, November 5, 2011

My Day Job

Coughell girls w/Uncle A. Metler
My world does consist of more than living in the past, though I try not to let that show too often as this blog is mainly the manifestation of my genealogy personality. Situations sometimes do overlap, though.

 My day job entails working in the foster care system. There have been some new programs and concepts coming out in that field focusing on finding and expanding on family resources for these children. My co-workers and I are participating in some in-depth training on Family Finding developed by Kevin Campbell. Mr. Campbell took some concepts from various other philosophies and resources including research by the Church of Latter-Day Saints that estimates that there are between 100-300 living relatives of every person on the planet. The training introduces techniques and tools for locating relatives of children currently in foster care. I have boasted that I’m good at finding dead people, but I do need more help in finding living ones.

Another technique that Mr. Campbell has incorporated into Family Finding is something called Mobility Mapping in which he has a youth draw a visual map of what he/she remembers of the places they used to live and the people that were important to them in an effort to jog their memory about relatives that may be out there. This technique was originally used in helping displaced children who were part of the Rwandan tragedies.

The trainers mentioned how this visual technique can help retrieve memories that are not otherwise as readily accessible. Evidence of that was made pretty clear when we had the opportunity to practice this technique the other day in training. I was paired up with a woman named Terri and she assumed the role of the youth while I asked her questions and had her draw with markers on poster paper taped to the wall. I asked Terri to draw a picture of the house she lived in growing up and draw the people who lived with her which included her parents and siblings. We moved on to other family members and where they lived. She had an uncle, aunt and cousins who lived next door which she drew. Then we expanded to other family. Her grandparents lived in the same area and she drew pictures to represent them and their homes as well. When she first wrote about her maternal grandmother she could not recall the grandmother’s maiden name. I went on to ask about aunts and uncles and she kept working to add what she could recall. Eventually while explaining about an uncle who lived upstairs from her grandmother, she recalled that Grandpa Gill originally lived upstairs.  “Oh,” she said, turning to me in surprise, “That was my grandmother’s maiden name, Gill! I would have never remembered it otherwise.”

Because of my genealogy background, I find the whole concept of family finding intriguing and have tried to incorporate my family history skills into some of this. I realize this Mobility Mapping technique could be transferred back over to genealogy. Making a visual map could help prompt the memories of an older relative and discover clues about family and/or the local neighborhood. 

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