Ancient civilizations explained the origin of simple things - plants, animals, and environmental phenomena - through mythology.
For instance, the Greeks had Gods and Goddesses that ruled from Mount Olympus. In time, the family trees of these Gods were drawn out in an effort to better understand how things came to be.
The study of family trees didn't end there, emerging through generations to the point that genealogy has become an involved study.
Genealogy is the study of family history. A surprising number of us do not know much about our heritage. We tend to know only the history of the previous - perhaps, previous two - generations.
However, ancestry sites such as ancestry.com and 23andme.com, and DNA testing, have become increasingly popular, showing us that we are all more connected than we think.
Many of us develop a keen interest in our origins - as evidenced by the number of our students who begin learning a language to better understand a culture that is part of their family heritage. For them, the fact that foreign languages reveal how other societies think and feel, what they have experienced and value, and how they express themselves, becomes an even more vivid experience. If you knew that your family had originated in Germany, would you want to learn German? What if you realized you were part Italian? Spanish? French? Arab? Korean?
For many, the next step is logical. Traveling to countries whose culture has played some vague role in your make-up is a wonderful way to get to know more about your heritage. And the trip is certainly more pleasurable if you know some of the language.