Finding My Roots with DNA Testing

In collaboration with HISTORY and 23AndMe — the story, words and experiences are my own. ROOTS is premiering on HISTORY on 5/30 at 9pm ET. Be sure to follow ROOTS on Twitter (#ROOTS) and Facebook, and to find out more, click here.

My Birthplace


 

I was born in Hong Kong on June 29th 1988. Both of my parents are of Canton descent.That’s pretty much all I know about my ancestry — my parents have never been the type to open up and elaborate where we came from. As far as my nationality is concerned, all I know is that I am Chinese-Cantonese. 


With my 媽咪 (Mom) and 爸爸 (Dad).

Hi world — it’s about time to get personal. This is a long overdue introduction. I know some of you are and have been curious. Some of you have been on this journey with me, from the very beginning, while some of you are just joining in. Whether you are a loyal reader or passing visitor, you are important to me. Your presence is why I am here. Privileged enough to work anywhere and everywhere. 

But I’ve been holding back onto some personal baggage. Ironically, this is one part of my life that I have yet to reveal on MYBELONGING. I started this whole thing in pursuit and in hopes that I’ll discover a deeper part of myself through my material possessions. Yet, there’s so little that I know of myself on a biological, genetic level. My ancestral roots. My place in this world. How I essentially came to be. 

I started this whole thing in pursuit and in hopes that I’ll discover a deeper part of myself through my material possessions. Yet, there’s so little that I know of myself on a biological, genetic level. My ancestral roots. My place in this world. How I essentially came to be.

I don’t think I am alone when I say this — writing about yourself is the hardest thing to do. While this has come naturally to me all my life, I still get awkward and embarrassed when people tell me they read what I’ve been writing, what I’ve been going through. I’ve discovered a lot of components of what makes me me through writing in this space and creating unique content for all to enjoy. Yet, there’s a crucial part to me that remains substantially uncharted: my ethnic identity is a constant subject of debate, growing up and even now as an adult. 

Growing up as a Chinese immigrant in America, I’ve lost count the number of times people have questioned my ethnicity and nationality. Some of these scenarios I am about to describe still happen till this day and believe many others can relate to: 

In an elevator hotel: “Kamusta! Are you Filipino?”
On a recent Uber ride: “Do you speak Spanish?” 
At the bar: “So what’s your nationality? Let me guess - Vietnamese? Laos? Thai?” 

To which I retort: “I am Cantonese-Chinese from Hong Kong.” 

The list goes on. 

INSIDE THE 23ANDME DNA TEST KIT



Although these conversations thankfully don’t have any negative undertones attached to them, the simple fact that they exist is bothersome to some extent. But what perhaps bothered me even more is…I am not quite so sure about my real ethnicity and nationality myself. My dad was actually adopted at an early age -- something that I haven't even confided to my closest friends. (Side note: I only found out myself just a few years ago. You guys are probably one of the first groups of people to find out.) And it has undoubtedly added to the confusion of it all.
 
This uncertainty can be linked to why there’s been a pressing desire to discover more of who I am from a genealogy standpoint. I made a promise right there and then that I’d want my DNA tested. Recently, I’ve been given the opportunity to embark on a very personal journey towards my roots and ancestry to evolve and further solidify my self-identity with 23andMe and HISTORY for their upcoming reimagined ROOTS miniseries. I cannot be more thankful for this treasured opportunity to learn more about my ancestral history on such a specific level. The timing could not be more serendipitous, as I thought about already doing this myself in light of my 28th birthday being a mere few weeks away.

After mailing in the kit last week, I haven’t really been able to stop thinking about what the outcome will be and how the results may forever alter the way I see myself. It’s both exciting yet nerve-wrecking at the same time. I simply can’t wait to receive and share my results with all of you - stay tuned!