About This Project

Facing Diversity was produced by students from the Journalism Department at San Francisco State University to gain insights into ethnic and cultural diversity in the United States and how it might affect their work as future journalists.

The students, who were enrolled in the class Cultural Diversity in U.S. News class (J610-01, Spring Semester 2017), were asked to explore their own personal identities and the backgrounds of their ancestors. They interviewed relatives, collected historical documents and photographs and reflected on their own experiences and the family stories they heard while growing up.

Ancestry, the international genealogy research and testing service, generously donated DNA testing kits that enabled the students to determine their ethnic backgrounds and the geographic origins of their ancestors. Through the Ancestry website (www.ancestry.com), the students also could access a vast array of documents, such as birth, immigration and military records. Ancestry’s Genetic Communities feature provided background information about the history of migration around the world.

Featured on this website are essays written by the students at various stages during their explorations. They describe their family histories, the “missing stories” they hope to clarify, the surprises that turned up and the memories, values and traditions that were passed down from one generation to another. For reasons of privacy, students were free to divulge as much or as little as they wished in these essays, and the DNA test was offered as an option.

The students also reflect on how they were impacted by the experience of exploring their backgrounds, and what journalists could learn if they embarked on a similar personal journey.

The class expresses gratitude to Ancestry for supporting the project. Special thanks go to Melissa Garrett, corporate communications manager, and Kristin Rand, epidemiologist, who briefed the class on Ancestry’s services and DNA testing procedures.

Website credits go to students:

Lan Ritzye Paje, website design and development,

Aaron Levy-Wolins and Imani Breana Miller, photography,

Stephanie Marie LaRue, videography,

Aleah Marie Moya-Fajardo, audio production,

and all the members of the class who contributed essays.

Website sponsored by Renaissance Journalism

Additional website assistance was provided by Jaena Rae Cabrera. As the instructor for the class, I wish to express my personal gratitude to the students for the passion and enthusiasm that they applied to this project.

— Jon Funabiki

Professor of Journalism

San Francisco State University