DNA search may lead to surprising discoveries regarding previously hidden multi-ethnic identities

Growing up Irish, I have been surrounded with traditional foods, faith and language my whole life. Saturdays are when my family eats shepherd’s pie, a potato dish with cooked meat and peas. Sundays bring prayer, a reflection of my Christian faith. The weekdays bring books, lined with old slang. This all took a turn when I discovered my ancestry, and found I am not nearly as Irish as my family previously assumed.

Nervousness stirring in my stomach, I logged onto ancestry.com after a long six week wait. My DNA had been processing the entire time, and when I was able to see the results, hands shaking, I typed the wrong password not once, but two times. On the third attempt, my phone screen loaded to the home page.

There they were, my DNA results. Click. Fifty seven percent Great Britain. Click. Twenty three percent Western European. Click. Twenty percent Other? Click. West Asia. Where’s Ireland?

In a small category titled “trace region of Europe,” I read, “Four percent Irish.” My body filled with the shock of finding out I am less of what I thought I was, and more of what I never thought I’d be: West Asian.

After digging longer, I discovered the country of Syria in my blood. This is a country stereotyped for violence, war and refugees, and, interestingly, I am a part of it at heart.

“Mom!” I yell loudly from my bedroom. Steps pounded quickly against the stairs and into my bedroom.

“Yes?” my mom asked.

“Look,” I said, sliding her my phone. “Syria.”

“Where’s the Irish?” she asked.

I paused for a moment, and reflected. She’s right. Where is the Irish? How could my family have thought we were something for so long and never known otherwise? How did we not know we were West Asian?

“Four percent,” I responded. “Only four.”

Despite the lack of Irish blood in my body, my family still eats shepherd’s pie. We still go to church on Sundays, as well as everything else we used to do. Although I feel a new connection to Syria, I still feel Irish in my roots. This proves a difficult concept to understand: Heritage is not only what flows in your blood, but it’s also what radiates in your heart.

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