Last month, with autumn in full season, students from the Yale Genetics Club gathered inside Harkness Hall to watch and then discuss the film Thank you for Coming, a documentary about DNA testing and donor-conceived children.
While elsewhere on this beautifully adorned campus with its Gothic-style buildings, students were studying for their midterm exams, inside the hall students were discussing genetics and the meaning of family.
“(The) screening was such a rewarding experience for me,” said Ava Daniel, sophomore Yale student and founder of the Yale Genetics Club. “The film inspired such thoughtful conversations between my peers and me about the deep familial and cultural themes that accompany genetic testing, which is something we can’t often dive into within a classroom setting.”
The 90 minutes movie follows a filmmaker, Sara Lamm, who discovered at age 29 that her biological father was a sperm donor and not the father that she grew up with. The film follows her on a heartfelt journey as she uses her DNA testing results and historical records to find and connect with her biological father and siblings.
As part of the 23andMe Genetics Club, Yale Genetics Club students are invited to participate in educational opportunities throughout the year, like this movie screening. Participation in the 23andMe Genetics Club is free and the mission is to inspire and support students to have conversations about genetics, and its potential impact in society.
“The screening at Yale, and the discussion it sparked, is just the sort of engaging activity these clubs are meant to foster,” said Thao Do, Ph.D., 23andMe Education, and Academia Manager.
“I love spending time with students,” said Thao, who was at the screening. “They are full of light and energy and hope for the future. They are highly engaged and ask very thoughtful questions. It’s a privilege to be a witness to their beautiful journey of learning.”
At the screening, Sara Lamm, the filmmaker and main character of the movie, traveled on a train from New York to Connecticut to join the students for a live question and answer sessions. Although scheduled for a 30 minutes, the students stayed long into the night to ask Sara questions like: What does it mean to be family? Is it genetically-defined or socially-constructed? How will genetics testing influence our society in the future?
“My mother immigrated to America 34 years ago from South Korea, which is where half of my family still resides,” said Keith Ochwat, Producer of Thank You For Coming. “Sara’s film about reconnecting with family resonates with me because of my shared aspiration and desire to connect and create new family stories.”
If you are a college student or educators and would like to bring the film Thank you for Coming to your campus and host your own screening with the director, Sara Lamm, you can contact the film’s producer directly through the film’s website.
If you are an active college student or educator at an accredited U.S. institution, join the 23andMe Genetics Club to participate in fun educational events like this movie screening. No purchase necessary.
Here’s a trailer for the film.