23 and Asian Me: Part 3 of 3

ETHNICITY

So… I’m only half-Vietnamese. Interesting since both sides are Vietnamese, I’d say each side has a little bit (actually a lot) of Chinese to make me 50%– and that goes for my grandparents, great grandparents, great-great parents and beyond.

Remember: I have records on my paternal-paternal side– and it’s as far Vietnamese as it goes back. However! There is the issue with my last name originally deriving from a Chinese name. My paternal grandmother’s last name is as far back as Vietnamese as it can possibly go. As of this moment– no info on my paternal’s maternal side of the family.

Vietnam is a tiny country right next to China. It’s no surprise that anyone is part anything but Vietnamese. Now we get deep into some research. My “Vietnamese” is not the “original” Vietnamese. Think Americans VS Native Americans or Australian VS Aborigine Australians. According to Wikipedia, there are 9 different groups. I won’t get into it too much.

Until I can convince my brother to take this DNA test, I cannot tell what I got from my dad and what I got from my mom. He took this test once years ago, and though I’ve wondered if the tests have become more advanced since then– he has not taken the current 23AndMe test.

MY SURNAME

I know from my paternal, paternal side that I am as far back as Vietnamese goes. The records go all the way back to the dead Vietnamese language. “Truong” is also a variation of the Chinese surname “Zhang”– the most common surname. No help at all. From what I can gather, it is the “Smith” of Asian surnames.

THE HEALTH RESULTS

To be honest– there really wasn’t anything I didn’t already know.

I am 99% tolerant of everything– just not milk. I can have milk, but I’m not going to sit there and eat a quart of Greek yogurt. Nope. Not for me. But I already knew that.

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23 and Asian Me: Part 2 of 3

Off, off and away… it’s gone. Sent it out Saturday November 5, 2016.

Monday here! Let’s check out the site before I learn all about me.

Beyond Ancestry

Pending results!

Pending results!

What’s even more interesting to me than the actual “Where are you from?” section of the results is actually… everything else. Like I mentioned in part 1– I am very, very sure my family is from Vietnam. But this DNA test is going to tell me more than just “You’re Asian.” Let’s have some fun and make some predictions of our own. Well, I’ll make the predictions– you may not know me as well as I know myself.

 

 

Part 1: Ancestry Predictions

Ancestry Composition

After watching plenty of YouTube videos of 23andMe results, I know this part is just what country did you eventually come from thousands of years ago. Hundreds of years ago, I know “I” came from Central Vietnam on my father’s side– from Huế, Vietnam. Huế is the ancient royal capital of Vietnam, and the ancient seat of the Nguyen dynasty. Interestingly enough, my family was around back then (source: written records), but our last name never changed to Nguyen. (Quick Fact: There are so many Nguyen’s because of The Nguyen Dynasty, the king made everyone in the kingdom change their family name to Nguyen). How my family got away with it– no idea. I can deduce that part of my family was educated and non-working class because I have written records. Up until recent history, the literacy level of Vietnam was pretty low.

My paternal grandmother came from a farm in Huế, and did not read or write, until learning to do so after moving to The United States around the age of 60. My paternal grandfather fluently spoke at least 4 languages, including Vietnamese, English, French and Mandarin Chinese.

My maternal grandparents, I can predict the same thing. Further back, they were farmers in North Vietnam before the country split in two. After the country split, my maternal grandfather worked for The Department of Agriculture for the South Vietnamese government. From this, I gather, the family was also educated for my grandfather to have also been literate.

Haplogroups
23 and Me Haplogroup Map

23 and Me Haplogroup Map example

“In human genetics, the haplogroups most commonly studied are Y-chromosome (Y-DNA) haplogroups and mitochondrial DNA (DNA) haplogroups, both of which can be used to define genetic populations. Y-DNA is passed solely along the paternal line, from father to son, while DNA is passed down the maternal line, from mother to offspring of both sexes. Neither recombines, and thus Y-DNA and DNA change only by chance mutation at each generation with no intermixture between parents’ genetic material.”

I am not a man. (Surprise! Surprise!) I do not have a y-chromosome. So, I don’t know what will pop up here when the results finally come in, but it may be similar to the map above. “The haplogroup map shows you where most of the people with a given haplogroup lived prior to the age of European exploration, about 500 years ago. Before that time people moved a little less, and rarely moved between continents. Therefore the map reveals where people with a particular haplogroup lived for thousands of years.”

Neanderthal Ancestry

I am pretty sure we all come from neanderthals. The only thing this part of the test is going to tell me is just how much of a neanderthal I am– or how evolved I am. This sounds like a lawsuit waiting to happen. Good thing they have disclaimers! My prediction: there’s gotta be some-percentage, right? I’d like to think I’m pretty evolved– so my prediction is… close to none, but there’s going to be something.

Part 2: Carrier Status

There is a whole list of diseases 23andMe will test for. I really can’t predict the entire list, but a few, I have a good idea of what the test might reveal for me.

Note: Not a biologist and I’m not going to do anymore research beyond Wikipedia for my predictions. If something in the results shows up that peak my interest, I MAY look more into it.

Predictions

There are so many! So I’m just going to go ahead and predict 100% no for everything.

ARSACS
Agenesis of the Corpus Callosum with Peripheral Neuropathy
Autosomal Recessive Polycystic Kidney Disease
Beta Thalassemia and Related Hemoglobinopathies
Bloom Syndrome
Canavan Disease
Congenital Disorder of Glycosylation Type 1a (PMM2-CDG)
Cystic Fibrosis
D-Bifunctional Protein Deficiency
Dihydrolipoamide Dehydrogenase Deficiency
Familial Dysautonomia
Fanconi Anemia Group C
GRACILE Syndrome
Glycogen Storage Disease Type Ia
Glycogen Storage Disease Type Ib
Hereditary Fructose Intolerance
Herlitz Junctional Epidermolysis Bullosa (LAMB3-Related)
Leigh Syndrome, French Canadian Type
Limb-Girdle Muscular Dystrophy Type 2D
Limb-Girdle Muscular Dystrophy Type 2E
Limb-Girdle Muscular Dystrophy Type 2I
MCAD Deficiency
Maple Syrup Urine Disease Type 1B
Mucolipidosis Type IV
Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis (CLN5-Related)
Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis (PPT1-Related)
Niemann-Pick Disease Type A
Nijmegen Breakage Syndrome
Nonsyndromic Hearing Loss and Deafness, DFNB1 (GJB2-Related)
Pendred Syndrome and DFNB4 Hearing Loss
Phenylketonuria and Related Disorders
Primary Hyperoxaluria Type 2
Rhizomelic Chondrodysplasia Punctata Type 1
Salla Disease
Sickle Cell Anemia
Sjögren-Larsson Syndrome
Tay-Sachs Disease
Tyrosinemia Type I
Usher Syndrome Type 1F
Usher Syndrome Type 3A
Zellweger Syndrome Spectrum (PEX1-Related)

Part 3: Traits

Self-explanatory, right? What makes me unique?

The European site includes what may/may not show up on the tests… AND it has East Asian results! Well, I’m already disappointed!

Predictions

Facial Features

Hair: I have straight hair, my sister has wavy, so… I’m thinking it was a 50/50 chance for me. Both parents have straight hair, but my maternal grandfather has wavy hair– or so I’ve been told. At 90, it’s mostly gone.

Physical Characteristics: Height- average? Asians are short, but I am 5’6″; that’s pretty tall for an Asian woman. My brother is 5’11”, so I’m thinking we’re an average height family. We are American-born growing up eating American food, with American hormones and American milk– so that probably has a huge factor on our height.

Physical Responses: This is a weird thing like sneezing if a smell is too rich, like chocolate or Vietnamese coffee. I don’t have that at all.

Skin: No freckles and I tan easily. My dad’s family has 0 zits and 0 acne as teenagers, adults, no matter what they do. My mom’s family has crazy zits and acne as teenagers and adults no matter what they do. As for me, I had a few zits as a teenager but haven’t had any since.

Taste and Smell: I can smell. I can taste bitter things.

Wellness

Alcohol flush: I DEFINITELY have the Asian glow. Makeup usually does a good job of hiding that. Although my ears do turn red. I always say, “I’m not drunk! I swear! It’s the Asian me! My dad has it. My mom doesn’t drink at all– so I don’t know if she has it or not, but her brothers definitely have it. Not much surprise expected in this category.

Caffeine consumption: Personally, I drink a lot of coffee. A lot. When I first started out in accounting, I drank about 5 cups a day. Now, I have one cup a day, but extra, extra strong Vietnamese coffee. I predict no sensitivity. If I did have that, I’d probably be dead right now– either from a heart attack, or from being so hyped up I’m just running around and around in circles until I run in the street. Good news is, I have a lower risk of premature death according to this trait.

Deep sleep: I have pretty vivid dreams, but I’m tired when I wake up and have trouble falling asleep. This is a toss-up for me.

Lactose intolerance: I don’t have it. Don’t know anyone who does. This is not the same as a sensitivity to dairy which many adults develop later in life no matter their tolerance as kids. This is why I can’t eat too much yogurt.

Muscle composition: Am I sprinter or a power muscle type? I’d say power muscle, because I hate running. I hate it, because my entire life, I have never been a good runner. I was an AWESOME swimmer (if I do say so myself), played well in all kind of sports, like basketball (which includes running)… but just running? Blegh.

Saturated fat and weight: I’m going to predict I am more likely to be at a lower weight, and have less saturated fat. I know this because I eat like poop and have stopped exercising like I used to. I’m not as firm, but I’m basically the same size I was when I was 14 years old– just an inch taller and a bit jigglier.

Sleep movement: Do I move when I sleep? No. At least according to my sleep partner and 2 different iPhone apps.

See you in 6-8 weeks!

23 and Asian Me: Part 1 of 3

23andMe Kit. It came in about a week.

23andMe Kit. It came in about a week.

DNA ancestry kits are more popular than ever due to their enticing (not guaranteed) “promises” of reporting one’s ancestry, history and health risks. I wonder what I am.

Okay. I know I’m Asian– but how Asian am I really?

So… I ordered a 23andMe DNA testing kit.

I know what some are going to say, “You just spent $200 to find out you’re Asian!” I know that part! But I’d also like to know anything else this kit might tell me…

Why Is There No Data for Asians!?

The Kit

The $199 Kit

I am curious and have searched for answers. Check out: 23andMe has a problem when it comes to ancestry reports for people of color by Euny Hong. While we’re known as The Model Minority– I think we’re also The Forgotten Minority. (For example, Asians are never “courted” by politicians. But let’s not get into politics). After all, Hong does point out it’s just poor marketing. We all have curiosities about our past, but as a whole, Asians have the highest income, therefore more “disposable income” to spend on expensive luxuries we don’t necessarily “need” such as ancestry tests.

“Asian-Americans have the highest household incomes of any ethnic group, and they like to buy stuff. If you can’t get more than 76 [Asians] to buy your product, you are probably not very good at running a business.”

– Euny Hong

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The Kit

Hey 23andMe! You’re leaving cash on the table! This article was just published 3 months ago, and there still was no distinction between Asians. They don’t even test to distinguish Japanese from the rest of Asia– and they’re on a completely separate land mass. Don’t think, “Hey! She bought it anyway!” Searching my hardest– I found few Asians who wanted to see these results for themselves. The majority are just watching the YouTube videos or reading articles like this, thinking, “Hey! No one cares about me. It’s just not worth it.”

Asian VS South East Asian

Vietnamese is South East Asian, not just Asian– so I guess that’s a LITTLE more specific. However, also South East Asian: Thais, Indonesians, Filipinos, Cambodians, Laotians… and a few more tiny islands. Deciding whether or not $199 would be “worth it” for me, I did A LOT of research. YouTube videos of Asians discovering their ancestry showed them mostly as “Asian.” I am 99.9% sure I’ll be “Asian,” too. However, I haven’t found any recent reports from my fellow Asians– at least within the past year. Then again, I haven’t seen 23 and Me report they have improved their Health and Ancestry DNA testing procedures.

I’m a Woman

That’s XX chromosomes, if you’re wondering. So, when it comes to certain results, I can’t know if it came from my dad’s side or my mom’s side. I do have a brother who took this test years ago… if he ever does it again, I’ll be sure to check out his results.

I Have Records

I do have written family records that go back as far as early 17th century on my father’s side. The records go all the way back to a dead language. I am sure my family once had records that went even further back, but the events of The Vietnam War rendered them destroyed.

The Vietnamese language today is written in western characters because of the colonization of Vietnam by the French around the mid 1800s and in 1887, they took over Vietnam completely. The Chinese colonized Vietnam from 111 B.C. for 1000 years. So, I can’t be sure if I am 100% Vietnamese, or if I am a little Chinese. The tests do tell the difference between Asian (includes Chinese) and South East Asian (includes Vietnamese)… so we’ll see.

I have 0 records on my mother’s side. However, I know that if I find something funky– maybe I’m .000000001% European or something– it could possibly have come from her side family. Her family was originally from The North. She was born in The South after my grandparents had moved to Bien Hoa when the country split in two after the first Indochhina War and the communists controlled The North.

My Name

Truong: Many Asians have similar surnames such as Nguyen or Tran. This is because of the dynasties, in which the emperors forced all in the village to change their last name to that of their emperor’s. Truong is originally from the Chinese surname Zhang (or Chang)– so my family was probably once Chinese– with the third most common Chinese last name of all time.

Vu: My mother’s surname. It is one of the 12 most common Vietnamese surnames. I have found no ties to… well… anything on my mom’s side.

23 and Asian Me: Part 2

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Seattle

THE CITY

I love it! I have no idea why. I just cannot describe it, but I’ll try. It was just the atmosphere. Coming from Orange County—we don’t have big cities. We’re a handful of little cities bunched together. There are just a few short “skyscrapers” by John Wayne Airport—our only airport… and I love it. We have the ocean, we have sand, we have hiking trails and definitely a whole bunch of restaurants and bars. What we don’t have, is that “in-the-city” feeling when you’re walking down the street. No one walks down the street here.

 

I am not a fan of the big city. Big cities are big—so my next comment isn’t a blanket statement, but it’s true enough—big cities are dirty. The traffic’s a pain. The sidewalk’s a pain. Busses, Uber, taxis—all a pain!

 

THE CITY – THE LITTLE BIG CITY

Seattle is a little big city. It has all the glamorous appeals of the big city—the tall buildings, the open-all-nights, the monuments, the stories… the gum wall! I loved the city being up late at night—not all night, without the stinkiness of a big city. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT!

 

The Space Needle—what can I say? Like any other big landmark, you come and you leave. It wasn’t too exciting.

 

THE CITY – PIKE PLACE MARKET

We didn’t go. At least not during normal business hours. The one thing I hate to admit while writing about my experiences is that I haven’t experienced everything. Regrettably, I had not had the chance to visit Pike Place Market—only once at 2 or so in the morning. It was the only place I really wanted to go. Why was I there at two? I was spending quality time with my cousins all day and night and we only happened to wander over there since, and that was way more important to me than spending time at Pike Place during the day without the boys.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

I wasn’t there long enough to really soak in every detail of Seattle, but what I did experience is worth mentioning. Get back to me some time in the future after I’ve really gotten to know Seattle. For now, I only know I’d love to go back.

San Juan Islands – Washington State

TIME TO GET AWAY!

And I mean REALLY away. Come to Washington. Enjoy the beautiful city of Seattle. Then, take a 4-hour drive and a something-hour ferry ride to the “far-away” get-a-way in the San Juan Islands.

Coming from an urban Southern California city in the last week of August, my first thought was, “Whoah… I like the trees.” There were a lot of trees, and the trails made me want to hike through the forest, and possibly live there… or stay there for just a day or two. I changed my mind when I was reminded how cold it was at night, but I’ll get to that later.

sanjuan

THE DRIVE – THE DEER

IMG_2306 (1).jpgAfter hopping off the ferry from the main land—2 ferries. We had a long drive ahead of us. A winding drive of nearly two or so hours. The only sign of civilization on our way up there were signs warning us to not hit deer and icy roads in the winter. The deer seemed to know to stay away from roads. (We even got out of car to see if we could pet one, but it galloped away. In hindsight, that was probably for the best).

Be extra careful, or travel with someone skilled swerving on winding roads. Please watch out for the wildlife.

THE DRIVE – THE TREESIMG_2303.jpg

I absolutely love trees! The only way to get to the resort is on a two lane winding road. If you’re from somewhere made of concrete brick walls, and all the trees around you were grown somewhere else and came there on a truck, you’ll appreciate the trees. I’m sure the majority of them at least 100 years old.

You do not see where nature ends here. The trees stretch from the ocean to the mountains. There was still a tiny bit a snow on the very tip of the mountains, even at the end of August.

THE STAY – THE YURT

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The best thing about this place? The stay? You can stay anywhere from the resort with luxury rooms, to a cabin, to a tent on the ground, and even a yurt! My advice—unless you love the freezing cold, stay away from the tents and the yurt. What the heck is a yurt anyway!? I had no idea until that night. It is a round wooden hut, with no roof. Well, there’s a tarp that covers the top, and mini tarps that cover the windows—well, more like the square “holes” around the walls.

If you want the experience—don’t forget the long underwear

If you want my personal opinion—pass on the yurt.

THE STAY – THE FOOD

It’s a pretty tiny place when you consider everything the town offers. The main restaurant is the big restaurant. It’s a huge gorgeous wooden lodge. HUGE! Also a nice bar to sit around with your posse. The food was great. Even in August, the place was too cold for me, but the food was good. There’s a huge menu with great specials everyday. The best part—it’s all organic. The majority of their fruits and vegetables are from their own garden. If it can be grown in the cold Washington soil, they grow it. The resort also keeps different animals, but I doubt they butcher it themselves. As for the eggs—they may be fresh from their very own chickens… I’m not quite sure, but I wouldn’t be surprised

The restaurant is not open all day. It is open for each meal, then closed to prepare for the next one, so make sure you’re up early enough for breakfast and make sure you’re back in time for dinner.

If you’re looking for some snacks in between meals, or if you’ve missed a meal, there are small shops around the resort that sell healthy organic snacks. You won’t find any Cheetos, but nuts and fresh fruit should hold you over until the next meal. So don’t be late!

FINAL THOUGHTS

IMG_2313.jpgGive it a try. You can stay in the resort, the cabins, the yurt, a trailer or a tent. Choose one that’s best for you to stay in, but make sure you stay. I don’t recommend the open-sky option. There are bugs, and animals out roaming at night. Personally, it was an interesting experience with a great view, but I’d like to experience another resort next time. Every resort is different, and this place just didn’t make me go “Wow!” enough. Coming from the city, I really wanted to experience nature… just without too much discomfort.