Recently my husband’s Uncle passed away. When we attended his memorial we reconnected with one of his cousins Alex, the step-son of the Uncle. After returning to Colorado Alex befriended both my husband and me on Facebook.
Alex’s mother Elisa and my husband’s mother Minnie are sisters. Alex learned both English and Spanish at home and he also spent a lot of time in Mexico visiting the other sister, Manuela and her twelve children. My husband and his sibling were raised in a home where their mother was trying to learn English and as a result never taught Spanish to any of her eight children. Having this language barrier has been a hindrance especially at family get togethers. Not only did his Aunt and cousins not speak English but his Grandparents didn’t either.
After George and I got married my in-laws took us to visit Manuela and her family in Caborca Mexico. I had been to several Mexican cities in the past but they were all border towns. I was a little anxious about traveling farther into the interior of Mexico. To my surprise, I had a wonderful time. The inner part of Mexico is nothing like the border towns and Tia Manuela and her family were warm and cordial. We spent three days in this beautiful little town. I got to meet all of George’s twelve cousins and on the second night there my in-laws left George and I alone with them. I remember how awkward it was trying to communicate. It took almost a half an hour for one cousin to let us know that they wanted to take us out to dinner! With the use of hand movements and animal sounds we finally understood and off we went to the best dinner we have ever had!
Looking over Alex’s friends list I discovered that he was friends with several of the cousins in Mexico. I told my husband who immediately befriended them also. After about a week I decided I too should be their friends. I had developed a closed family group on Facebook a few years ago for George’s family Ancestry. I put their Genealogy on it along with documentation and photos and added his brothers and sisters and their families to it. His family was very appreciative of all my efforts. I even interviewed my in-laws and wrote stories about their childhood and ancestors.
After befriending his cousins I wrote to them that I was adding them to the group. I got a response in Spanish but I noticed the “Translate” link beneath the post. When I clicked on it the post was translated to English. I was really excited, finally communication! The six cousins have really enjoyed the group page. Many of the stories and photos they have never seen. Then yesterday something incredible happened. One of the cousin posted 15 never before seen photos of my mother-in-law, her sisters, her parents and Grandparents! She also said her mother had lots of photos and documents that she will post when she can. It has been a great blessing to all to connect with each other and to be able to share the family history.
The moral of the story is: with today’s technology there is no reason not to reach out to those family members who may speak a different language than us.
I realize I may be a little late in discovering this great option of Facebook translating posts for us, but I thought I’d share just in case there are some who like me, were not aware of it!
I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available onAmazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.