My (unimpressive) ancestry

I received an DNA testing kit for Christmas last year. As soon as I got home from my in-law’s (that was still a little weird to type out, by the way!) on December 26, I provided my DNA sample by spitting into the provided tube and I shipped off my testing kit back to the folks in Utah.

Providing my DNA sample
Providing my DNA sample. Boy my hair was long.

They received the sample only two days later, and a week after that, they started testing my DNA. I was extremely impatient and anxious to see my results; do I have an exciting or intriguing ethnic makeup that I was previously unaware of? Japanese ancestry from their occupation of Taiwan? Dutch ancestry from their colonial period in Taiwan during the 1600s? Mongol blood from their rampage across China? Something even cooler than that?

I finally received my results on Tuesday afternoon while I was at a brewery in Boulder with a friend visiting from out of town, Arjun. I announced, “Hey, you’ll be the first time find out my full ethnic makeup!” and opened my results.

With trembling fingers, I clumsily clicked on my results. With baited breath, the page loaded and I saw….

My genetic makeup, according to Ancestry
My genetic makeup, according to Ancestry
They're so specific about my origins!
They’re so specific about my origins!

What? That’s it? Try as I might, there was nowhere to see additional details or a more comprehensive look at my East Asian ancestry. And the reason for that, my friends, is because that information simply doesn’t exist on the site.

So after money spent and lots of time spent waiting, I am East Asian. I could’ve told you that I am ethnically East Asian. Any dummy off the street can take a 2 second look at me and tell you that. Hell, you don’t even have to look at me to figure out that I have East Asian ancestry…just say “Hey Billy, his last name is Wang. Take a wild guess at his ethnicity!” This was a giant crock of shit.

I mean look at this…people with African or European get much more detailed regional breakdowns. Asians get three giant swaths of land to define our DNA: East, Central and South. It could be worse though…North, Central and South America are all lumped into the same giant genetic classification.

Africans and Caucasians get a nice breakdown of their ethnic origins...
Africans and Europeans get a nice breakdown of their ethnic origins…

I guess maybe my expectations were higher than what would realistically be delivered, given the limitations of Ancestry’s Asian DNA pool. They should probably put that disclaimer on their website somewhere. I wonder how other DNA testing sites like 23andme, YourFamilyTree, National Geographic and others would have done comparatively.

I guess it’s not all bad though…after I got over the fact that I wouldn’t get any further details, the 9% Polynesian was kind of intriguing and opened the door to lots of questions. Does the Polynesian come from my mom’s side or dad’s side? How many generations back? There might be a good chance that one or more of my ancestors was a Taiwanese aboriginal. These questioned fueled some research (a term I am using very loosely here) into the Out-of-Taiwan migration model that suggests the Taiwanese were the original Austronesians that migrated to the Philippines, Indonesia and the Pacific islands. I have just began to broach this topic, so hopefully I can learn more about this soon.

So as upset as I initially was about my DNA results, it wasn’t a total bust. I have something to learn about now and my family has a small conversation piece. If I find out anything good, I’ll be sure to post an update!

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