Researching Asian Ancestry Is Becoming Easier, Thanks to Those Like Derek Dobson

Whereas Derek Dobson served a proselyting mission in Hong Kong from 1985 to 1986, he posed for a photograph on a hillside overlooking the border between Hong Kong and mainland China. As a younger man from rural Canada, this was an thrilling new expertise. Even along with his love of the Chinese language individuals and fluency within the language, Derek couldn’t have guessed what highly effective ties he would weave over his lifetime with individuals scattered all through Asia and the Pacific.

Derek’s Early Life and Profession 

Derek Dobson was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. At age 9, he and his household moved to close by Okotoks, a small group simply south of Calgary. Like many younger boys his age, Derek loved athletics and took part in native sports activities packages.

Derek Dobson first felt love for his ancestors when he read a plaque that said, "Joined here by powers that past and present bind the living and the dead perfection find."

As a teen, Derek was launched to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by a buddy who shared his enthusiasm for sports activities. It was throughout his first journey to the Cardston Temple at age 15 that Derek turned fascinated with household historical past. Inscribed on a brass plaque within the entry have been the phrases “Joined right here by powers that previous and current bind the residing and the lifeless perfection discover.” These tender phrases stirred up deep emotions of affection inside him towards his ancestors. 

After graduating highschool, he determined to function a missionary for the Church and was requested to serve in Hong Kong. Whereas there, he met his future spouse, Cynthia Jean Lund, a fellow missionary additionally serving in Hong Kong. Quickly after their missions, they selected to marry. At present the Dobsons have 7 youngsters, together with 2 who have been adopted from China. 

Derek obtained his bachelor’s diploma in Asian research from Brigham Younger College with a minor in Mandarin. He then proceeded to work in Hong Kong as a nation supervisor for WordPerfect and Novell and finally pursued an MBA in worldwide enterprise. 

Derek met his wife when they both served missions in Hong Kong.

Each step of his training and profession appeared to propel Derek towards a mixture of three nice loves—expertise, Asia, and household historical past. Derek began with FamilySearch in 2003 and has crammed a sequence of assignments that more and more turned his consideration towards Asia and the Pacific. Derek is educated about lots of this area’s nations and cultures, together with Australia, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Mongolia, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand. He’s fluent in each Cantonese and Mandarin. 

Making Ancestral Analysis Simpler Is the Purpose 

Derek Dobson at the moment serves as a buyer expertise supervisor at FamilySearch with an emphasis in Asian ancestry. His workforce is presently engaged on making the web site extra culturally genuine and alluring for individuals from all around the world to make use of FamilySearch’s companies and to really feel snug sharing their info with FamilySearch. Derek explains, “It’s all about belief and willingness to share their information with us.” 

Derek Dobson works to make FamilySearch available worldwide—especially for asian countries. Screenshot of FamilySearch in Korean.

That is achieved by providing completely different content material to customers based mostly on language, nation, or area. Derek states, “We attempt to make our web site inviting based mostly on the perceptions and practices of the people who find themselves utilizing it.”

“The pursuit of household historical past is deeply engrained in some Asian cultures,” says Derek. Traditionally, as an example, Chinese language and Korean individuals have gathered and maintained household data over many generations. The Chinese language collections, often called jiapu, are usually maintained by clans, which might be huge in dimension—hundreds of thousands of individuals. 

File Indexing Is Very important for Making the World’s Data Accessible 

One other key issue to creating ancestor analysis obtainable on FamilySearch is its indexing initiatives. Indexing is a volunteer transcription effort that makes genealogical data freely searchable on-line. “The facility of indexing drives a part of our looking, matching, and hinting we now have on FamilySearch,” Derek explains. Via the selfless effort of numerous volunteers, hundreds of thousands of individuals worldwide have discovered details about their ancestors. 

Derek Dobson with his FamilySearch indexing team in 2007.

Derek enjoys reflecting on the unique FamilySearch indexing mission, one among his earlier assignments at FamilySearch. “With the ability to index data has made at present’s family tree very completely different,” says Derek. He likes to recall how his small growth workforce aimed to make the genealogical and very important data saved in the FamilySearch archives close to Salt Lake Metropolis, Utah, inside simple attain of researchers in every single place. 

This was a worldwide effort to index the names and information from 2.4 million rolls of microfilm and make it obtainable digitally on-line. Genealogical information from 110 nations and principalities was included. Some of the unique indexing members have been satisfied they might by no means take part in lively genealogical analysis, but they discovered themselves immersed on this thrilling exercise. 

Derek’s Go to to the Philippines—Indexing Renews Data Destroyed in a Storm 

Due to indexing, the variety of very important data obtainable on FamilySearch continues to enhance. But it’s the private impression of this effort that provides Derek a way of satisfaction.  

Derek Dobson in the Philippines with Charito C Aberia, the local registrar, Hon. Edgar C Boco, the municipal mayor of Hernani, Eastern Samar, Philippines, and Manolito Baul, Country Manager Philippines for FamilySearch.

Derek recounts a specific expertise whereas visiting the Philippines in 2014. The nation had been devastated the earlier yr by Storm Haiyan (also called Tremendous Storm Yolanda), essentially the most extreme hurricane to ever hit the Philippines. With winds sustained at greater than 140 miles per hour and gusts as much as 195 miles per hour, the lands have been ripped to shreds and the storm waves have been in comparison with tsunami waves. An estimated 9,000 individuals died, and property injury was set at almost $3 billion. 

Three small villages on the shore of Japanese Samar, Philippines, have been left in shambles. Their very important statistics archives for the native inhabitants have been utterly gone, actually with the wind. “We visited with a native mayor from one of many communities,” says Derek. “We informed him we had put their data on microfilm 5 years earlier and had introduced copies again with us. He didn’t appear impressed till I confirmed him a replica of his personal beginning certificates. Then he burst into tears. He had by no means seen it earlier than.” 

The mayor’s story is one frequent to many individuals around the globe who seem to undergo life unaware of the written proof of their existence. However FamilySearch is “bringing these data to life” by the efforts of these like Derek Dobson who search to protect very important data worldwide and make them accessible on-line. 

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