It was nearing the end of spring break. I was sitting on the bed bored out of my mind and the day’s events had tired me incredibly. Without a thought, I picked up my phone and checked my email knowing full well it would cost me. Ten dollars a day for international service is not fun once it adds up. But I didn’t care one way or another, it was just something for me to do. However, what I saw surprised me, it was the email from Ancestry letting me know my results came in.
I was in such a rush to figure out who I really was and to find out where my ancestors came from. But a minor setback prevented me from finding out—password forgetfulness at its finest. After what seemed like ages, I was finally able to log in and have the answer right in front of my face. The answers that would lead me to what I needed to know about myself. I continued onto the site and right there was the results.
The colorful pie chart showed: 64 percent Native American, 13 percent Iberian Peninsula, 9 percent Italy/Greece, 5 percent Ireland and the other smaller percentages that make up who I am. The five percent figure came with a caution that it was a “low confidence region.” I’m not too sure what that means, but I’ll take it. I tried to wrap my mind around the numbers, but I didn’t know where to start. I had the numbers and the regions but the next questions that popped into my head were ones that I wanted to know right away. For instance, what part of the family (biological father and mother) does the Iberian Peninsula (Portugal/Spain) come from? Most importantly, where does the Irish come from? That puzzled me more than anything else from the findings. Also, the map showing the region for Native American didn’t offer any specifics. A week later, however, the map was updated, tracing my family to central Mexico.
Essentially, that night stimulated more questions than answers.
To start, my focus went to my biological father’s history and how his life started here in the United States. All I know is, that he is Mexican, used to live in Mexico, then moved to the U.S., and then he suddenly vanished out of my life like thin air. I was hoping that I would find information on him and through that, information about the history of that side of the family. But all I found were his old home addresses in my home town and a phone number which I assume is probably out of date. I thought about calling it but decided against it thinking it won’t be him and if it was him, what would I say? Then I moved on to the birth and death certificates section and it was a challenge because there was so much to go through that I began to lose hope on ever finding anything about him. If I did find something, the text wasn’t provided nor a picture of the document so there wasn’t anything for me to do to obtain information. Then I made a family tree, but again hit a roadblock. My mother can’t remember the name of my biological father’s mother or father. It feels as though I’m missing out on stories about him that could give me a sense of who he is. I’m not sure I will ever find out.
Nonetheless, I was able to find a little bit more about my mother’s side. As it turns out, my great-grandmother on my grandfather’s side is not his real mother. His mother died during child birth and I’m still trying to understand how my great-grandmother molds into the story. But after her death, Mama Tina (it’s what we call her) took my grandfather as her son and raised him along with her other children. My grandfather isn’t much of talker and I like to think I got that quality from him being passed down from generation. We’re the only two in the entire family that don’t like to talk much, and we would rather enjoy the calmness than the chaos. He worked at the factory across the street from his home in the village called La Cabana in El Salvador. My grandfather had some schooling, and encouraged his children to go out there and strive for education that would set them to a good life. He wanted more for them, and he wanted them to branch out and make something for themselves. That’s what my mother did—she became a successful nurse because she values helping others in need.
That type of determination can help me as a journalist. I need to be determined to find the truth no matter how discouraged I get and to report what is real and important for readers. I know my mother’s family lived during the Salvadorian civil war and I know that speaking out during those times of war often resulted in death. To speak out against what was wrong and for people to stand up for what was right wasn’t, at that time, encouraged and it was a time where fear stuck onto people like glue. I don’t want fear to overshadow my work and I’m aware there will be people of a certain status that will try everything in their power to bring myself and other journalists down. But that won’t stop me from telling the truth and reporting it, no matter how sticky the situation will get. The community deserves authentic news and the insights I’ve gained from this experience will help me empathize with the readers and the people I will interview in situations of hardships. To try to understand their point-of-view on things that matter to them and also, what goes on in their community and the world. It is important to diversify journalism in that to include all aspects of life and have two-sided stories instead of a one-sided one. The lesson the news media can gain from the experience is fairness in reporting and not just sticking to one position but rather seeing the truth as a whole. The media today only focuses on one thing when there are different angles of the story they can pursue, we all come from different backgrounds and cultures but we all live on this planet so it’s a good idea to co-exist with one another and understand our differences.