La Voz de Galicia – August 25, 2017 →

Cristina PatoIt arrived in a box and included a couple of resealable bags and a small container for the sample. The goal was to get scientific data about my identity via DNA through two samples of my own saliva.

This wasn’t an existential question—I wish I could clear those up with saliva. It was simple curiosity since I have spent more than half my life speaking about Galicia and what it means to be a bagpiper and Galician, and about how our cultural identity is so strong that it survived all external, invasive factors. Being born and raised in the country and living with country people, one never questioned where one’s ancestors came from, but this is a common question in the United States since most Americans have their roots in another country. When asked the question, my answer always was, “My family is 100% Galician.”

I discovered these types of tests a few years ago when National Geographic and IBM launched the educational and multidisciplinary tool called “The Genographic Project” in which through the exploration of their own DNA, students could learn in a profound, personalized manner the impact of migratory movements in contemporary society.

I placed my saliva in an envelope and sent it to the lab. My genetic map was revealing: 47% Greek/Italian, 21% Central European, 12% Irish, 11% Iberian, and 4% North African.

I satisfied my curiosity, understood that our truths are not absolute, and felt reaffirmed in the fact that one’s identity is created where one grows and contributes since there are multiple reasons for immigration and, in the end, all of us are from nowhere in particular. As Todorov said, “The foreigner is not only ‘The Other.’ We either have been or will be, yesterday or tomorrow, at the mercy of an uncertain fate: each one of us is a potential foreigner.”

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