I remember sitting in a classroom when I was pretty young – second grade, maybe – and learning about how the United States was a giant melting pot. I always loved this idea that people from all over the world ended up in this one country that’s unlike anywhere else in the world because, ultimately, we are all immigrants. However, I didn’t have a full sense of just how unique a concept this is until I started traveling out of the country.
When I was in graduate school I took a two-week course in Ireland, where I became good friends with one of my Irish classmates. We spent a lot of time chatting about our two countries, as she had never known any other Americans and I didn’t know any other Irish people. One of the biggest differences we talked about was how in Ireland, pretty much everyone is Irish and they can easily trace their ancestors back for generations. All of the families know one another and have a very shared history. While I knew that the “melting pot” concept was distinctly American, it hadn’t really occurred to me until that moment just how lucky we are to live in a country filled with so much diversity where our own genetic histories aren’t so cut and dry.
When it comes to my own personal lineage, there are quite a few holes. My husband can trace his own heritage back pretty far (he’s mostly British and Swedish), but I don’t have that same luxury. My full heritage is somewhat of a mystery and people have never been able to place me solely on appearance, which means that I often get mistaken for a local, for lack of a better word. For instance, there were a couple of times in Chicago where people started speaking to me in Spanish and were surprised to learn I wasn’t Mexican. In Italy, people would speak to me like I was Italian and I frequently had to stop people to explain that my Italian knowledge consists of three words. People we encountered in Costa Rica would try speaking to me in Spanish and were surprised when my husband responded instead of me. Most recently, a phlebotomist who was taking my blood during my pregnancy told me that he was convinced I was Greek.
Honestly, I’m happy to accept whatever background people want to bestow upon me, and I usually take it as an honor when people accept me as their own. That said, I was beyond excited when I was presented with an opportunity to partner with 23andme to submit a DNA testing kit that would potentially yield some answers about my genetic history.
23andMe: Start Here
Considering the fact that you are ordering an online DNA test, which seems incredibly complex, I thought the process leading up to getting my 23andMe results would be quite lengthy but the process actually couldn’t have been easier.
All you need to do is head online to order a genetic testing kit from 23andMe and then sit back and wait for it to be delivered. A colorful little box will arrive at your door just a few days later.