“I enjoy writing and I need the discipline that this class offers,” King said.
After a story is shared, the group discusses individual feelings about the reading, gives feedback and critiques one another. As members of the group share their stories, the process often triggers memories and related experiences for other participants.
Many of the members focus their writing on tracing family history and genealogy while some are there to preserve the stories of their own lives. Still others participate in order to retell the stories they were told by their grandparents.
“I feel like I have some kind of mission to keep these stories alive,” Cheri Guentzel said.
A majority of Guentzel’s family has lived in the Mankato area since the 1850s. She is using the class to dig into her lineage after being inspired by stories she was told by her grandmother and her great-aunt Hattie.
Also tracking her family’s history, Barbie Lamson uses the class to understand relationships her family had with others. After finding a picture of her confirmation day where she was posed with a young man, she began tracking her relationship with him.
It just so happened that the young man’s mother was very good friends with Lamson’s mother and knew many stories of her grandmother.
“I think it’s important to start questioning the role those people played in our loved ones’ lives,” Lamson said. “Other people have pieces of your life and you don’t even know it.”