Congress 2018: From a Newbie’s Perspective

Safe to say I’m still on a bit of a high from the last few days! Four days (well, three for me due to a wedding that I attended on the Saturday) of learning and networking with likeminded people…from the minute I stepped into the International Convention Centre on Friday morning I felt instantly comfortable. How could I not, seeing how many people there were milling about, giving me a chance to overhear family history related chatter here, there and everywhere. I wasn’t left wondering if I was in the right place for very long!


The one problem I had was picking which talks to go to! I attended Jill Ball’s talk on ‘Beaut Blogs’, DNA related talks given by Kerry Farmer, Helen V. Smith and Shelley Crawford and Jeffrey Madsen’s talk on Digitising Family Records, just to highlight a few. All the talks I attended were incredibly informative and well delivered, leaving me with plenty of things to look into over the coming months (Yes, it will take months, perhaps the rest of the year to implement everything I’ve learned…!). Considerations as to ethics regarding DNA and new ways to visualise my DNA matches have really stuck in my head, there’s a lot to think about.

I learned very quickly that Congress allows very little time for the basics. Food, bathroom, breathing…and that’s okay! Because when you weren’t dashing for the next talk (can’t say we didn’t get any exercise after doing multiple laps per day of Level 3!) or looking/parting with your money at the exhibitors stalls and chatting with those manning them…you were talking to the other delegates. Didn’t matter if you hadn’t met them before…you become instant friends in the genealogy spheres! There was always so much to talk about! I was particularly excited to meet Alona, (Lonetester)  Caitlin (Genealogically Speaking) and Ruth (Family Fractals), whose blogs I’ve been reading since I began researching just over a year ago. Caitlin and I have been friends on Facebook for some time, we’re close in age (and quite possibly the youngest in attendance these past four days, but that has been unconfirmed). There were so many others I met who made my experience of Congress that much better as well, we’d be here forever if I named them all!




In the break today, I had the opportunity to meet a DNA match on Mum’s biological paternal side.  Being the highest match on this side of the family to date, it was a pretty big deal. Perfect timing, meeting her during Congress! Luckily she is on board with helping us as best she can. Interestingly, she was able to give me details about familial traits and what struck me was that they all seem to be musical or creative in some way. It was funny to watch the my match’s jaw drop when I told her that my degree is in Music and I come from a family of musicians, Mum included. More interesting still, it was fascinating to hear that she could see familial resemblances in Mum! She confirmed this further, as we were told the exact same thing by the first bio paternal match we met around this time last year. To hear those sorts of things really means a lot and I am so glad to have met her.

And lastly, I have to admit I was rather surprised that there were people who seemed to know of my blog…I was talking to a lady today about the recent acquiring of a particular suitcase, to which she replied: “Didn’t I read about that on your blog?” — this happened a few times over the course of the event…you guys actually read this?! I’m flattered!

I am so glad that I decided to attend Congress, I have gained so much insight and inspiration for future research. I have also come away having made some new friends, which I’m really thankful for, I only wish these past four days hadn’t gone quite so fast! Thank you to SAG for doing such a wonderful job of putting it all together. I am looking forward to attending Congress 2021…if there is one. (Come on, someone please put their hand up to host!)





7 Comments Add yours

  1. angelamelb says:

    Great reflections on the Congress. Certainly had a chuckle about the break times as I got a lot of step counts in for the last few days. Well done.


    1. Thanks Angela! You and me both, Congress certainly had multilayer benefits haha.


  2. I should have told you when we met that I read your blog too! I think the only reason I didn’t is because I’m still surprised when I find out someone has read mine. 🙂


    1. It’s rather disconcerting to hear that isn’t it? Love reading your blog, it was great to finally meet you!


  3. Great to catch up with you at Congress 2018 and well done on your DNA match…very exciting.


    1. Was great to meet you Jonathan! Yes, hopefully this leads somewhere! 😀


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