February 2023 Newsletter Article
I have had a lot of friends and a few relatives who have chosen to use commercial genetic tests to learn more about their heritage. On my father’s side, thanks to the work of those who have come before me, I know that my family has a strong German heritage. However, as a Christmas present a few years ago, my mother bought my father a testing kit and, through that process, we learned that there might be a little French, English, and Scandinavian in his family tree as well.
My mother’s side of the family has always been a bit more complicated. There is a lot going on there with genetic influences from a great variety of backgrounds, but still mostly European. Despite the testing that has been done in my family, there haven’t been any real big surprises. We haven’t experienced the news of an unknown sibling or close relative of which we weren’t already aware.
Knowing your background can be affirming or surprising, but it is undeniably remarkable that the technology exists to let you know where your ancestors came from. For some, including me, it makes me want to travel to these places and see first hand the lands where my family once called home.
To my knowledge, I don’t have a significant amount of Irish or Italian heritage. But in recent years, Grimes Chamber & Economic Development has led Global Familiarization trips to both of those locations. We’ve taken small groups (under 20 people) to Ireland (2015) and Italy (2017), comprised of people largely from right here in Grimes. The trips have been wonderful experiences that allowed us to better understand other cultures, foster meaningful relationships, have a lot of fun, and learn much along the way.
There are other noted benefits to traveling abroad. Travel can help to improve your communication skills, expand your horizons, and make memories. But one of the greatest benefits is helping to make you more mindful of other people’s cultures and values. It helps to make you a more well rounded person and can make general conversation a bit more interesting; sharing stories of your expeditions with friends, family, and new acquaintances.
Even with smaller groups, we think there is a value to our community. Global travel can help make us better, more informed citizens, right here at home. This is why, later this year, we are leading a trip to the United Kingdom; more specifically Scotland and we want just as many people from our community who are interested in travel to come with us. We will leave on October 11th for an eight-day adventure including time in Edinburgh, Inverness, and Glasgow. We’re going to have lunch near St. Andrew’s Old Golf Course, visit Chapels, Cathedrals, Castles, and stop by Loch Ness to see if we can spot a monster by name of “Nessy”.
If interested in this trip, just visit www.GrimesIowa.com. But even if you’re not interested, we encourage you to travel. Then, when you return, share your insight, ideas, experiences, and stories with anyone who will listen. Maybe even encourage new friends, or long lost family from abroad, to come and visit Grimes!