“The Endless Cycle of Tracing Origins” by Chelsea DeClue

While most people can say, “Oh, I’m Hispanic,” or “I’m from Europe,” many Americans hit a point in their life where they ask themselves, “Where am I really from?” We look for something that is more precise than the possibilities that we’re given by our parents or grandparents. As Americans, unless you’re a very recent immigrant, we recognize that there’s a strong possibility that we don’t know the full story.

Up until a few weeks ago, if someone had asked me my ancestry, I would have told them “I’m Irish and German, but we also think that maybe there’s a little bit of Middle Eastern in there.” See, my mother’s side of the family has always been interested in tracing where we came from, and I had very little clue as to my biological father’s side of the family beyond my birth name, thanks to adoption. But when we have to say, “I think,” it leaves a lot of room for questions and wondering what the real story is.

So earlier this year when I was gifted a discount code by my friend Courtney to the Ancestry DNA Project, I jumped on the opportunity to learn more about myself and my family. Thankfully, the process was simple. Ancestry DNA sends you a little vial, you spit in it, and you mail it back, and then wait.

My first email from them arrived about a week after I mailed the vial back, letting me know that it had arrived and they had begun processing. It would take six to eight weeks to get my results. The next week, I had another email: my results were almost finished and I would have them in two to four weeks. A week later, I had an email sitting in my inbox. I suppose I must have hit their processing center at a time period when they weren’t that busy, because six weeks had turned to three. My results were ready to view.

In the time it took to hit a link, I went from “I’m Irish and German” to a much wider ancestry than I had even thought possible, and the more I dug into my results and DNA Matches, the more interesting the story became.

Just as I had known, there were indeed Irish and German roots in my family. However, it was the ratio of these that came as a shock. Both my mother and I had lived thinking that the two ancestral groups were fairly equal. The reality was quite different. Instead of near 50-50 split like we had expected, 80% of my ancestry is actually from the British Isles.

The remaining 20% included Western Europe, ie Germany, at a grand total of 5%, but it also included a number of other, far more interesting, results. I didn’t expect to see Scandinavia at 8% and Eastern European at 5%, or the Iberian Peninsula. I definitely wasn’t expecting Native American or Polynesia and the South Eastern Pacific, and while we had family rumor of Middle Eastern, now I finally had the proof.

Now, one thing that Ancestry DNA does is match you up with relatives, and because of this I was able to learn even more clearly where my ancestry comes from. Through this process, I was able to view the ancestry of one of my mom’s uncles, which explained her paternal history, and I was able to look at the results for one of my uncles, which explained my paternal history. I discovered that the majority of those ancestries came not from one side of the family, but from both sides.

They also give you a basic historical overview of some of the more predominant ancestries, or migrant groups they’ve been able to trace you to. For example, we had always thought that my biological father’s family had met up with my mother’s family after immigrating to America directly from Germany. Instead, Ancestry DNA traced that part of my family back to an immigrant population that first left the Rhineland and immigrated to England and lived there a significant period of time before later immigrating to America.

Of course, this whole process also opened up more questions, even as it answered others. Without further matches, we have a lot of history missing. Where and how do Scandinavia, Polynesia, and the Iberian Peninsula enter into the mix? Who was that random Native American that joined the family? Which tribe were they from? Is that Middle Eastern hit really from who we think it’s from, and was he really an immigrant from Jordan in the late 1800s? If there’s one thing this experience has taught me, it’s that we never really know what we think we know, and because of that, tracing our origins really is an endless cycle.

 

Photo made available by Gemma Evans via Unsplash

“Advice From A Senior” by Chelsea DeClue

Dear 18-Year-Old,

We spend much of our high school careers being told we have to plan for the future. You get it from the actions of the adults around you, in the questions that they ask you. What do you want to go to school for? Where are you going to school? What scholarships are you getting? Everything that happens in that four year period is to make you think about what you’re going to do for the rest of your life.

When I started high school, every question presented my way was to make me think about the future, and my high school career was geared towards a single goal. You see, as a young teenager, I had decided I was going to be an officer in the Navy, so my parents did everything they could to make sure I got there. By the time I was a junior, I was already applying for the Navy ROTC scholarship, and by the time spring my senior year hit, I was guaranteed admittance to the University of Oklahoma as an International and Area Studies student. The plan was to become a liaison officer after I graduated, a plan born out of the events of 9/11 and my understanding of how they could have been prevented with the right foreign relations, but that plan quickly fell apart.

After I learned that I wouldn’t be able to go into the career field I wanted as a Naval officer, I opted instead to enlist, still moving forward on the path to the career I picked. I spent the next six years working as a linguist. I figured I could establish myself in the enlisted ranks and work my way back up to my original goal, having gain experience relevant to the foreign relations world.

Instead, I ended up leaving the Navy, moved back to Kansas, and started going to school for a completely unrelated career field. Still, those six years taught me that I was not suited for the military life. For one, my personality was simply ill-matched, but there was also the fact that the military I had grown up with as a dependent was vastly different from the military I was working in. Attitudes had changed and bureaucracy was more rampant than I could have possibly expected, and I found myself being asked more and more to take actions I couldn’t morally agree with.

Now, I don’t regret the six years I spent in the military. Honestly, I almost stayed in for another six years, despite having learned that I didn’t really enjoy what I had picked for myself at 18 years old. I had a lot of push back from my family and a lot of doubt about where I was going to go once I got out of the military. It was nerve-wracking to leave something so stable for something so unsure.

I left the military anyway, because there was one thing I learned: whatever you do in life, you have to love doing it. Otherwise, you’re just going to go through life earning a living, to go back doing that thing you don’t like, to keep living, to keep going back to that thing.

So I’m about to say something that might make your parents cringe:

It’s ok to change your mind about where you’re going, and it’s ok to be indecisive. Stop focusing so much on your future and focus on your now. Now, not later, is the time to take the risks associated with spreading your wings and exploring the world.

Don’t worry if you get through your first semester and decide you want nothing to do with zoo science, psychology, marketing or whatever major it is you picked. Take those electives and expand beyond what you thought you’d like. You won’t know what you’ll become passionate about until you try learning new things. If you find something that you like more than what you originally picked, take the leap and go after that thing. Take the opportunity you’re being given now to learn what you love, to figure out what it is you want to do.

That isn’t to say that you shouldn’t be thinking about where you’re going to go. Whatever leaps of faith you take today, do so responsibly, but you won’t know what you will find until you try it out. At 18 years old, you’ve still got many years ahead of you, and there will be a day when it’s time to settle down. Today is not that day.

 

Photo made available by Evelyn Mostrom via Unsplash

“Surviving Friends University: Community is the Key” by Kerrick van Asselt

C- Care. Care for everyone around you. Care for yourself. Care for the Earth. Care for the things you do. Care about your schoolwork. Care about going to class, and doing well in class. Care about your classmates and professors. Care about how you are doing, and know when you need to recharge. Care about who you are and what you bring into the world. Just care.

 

O- Open up. Find the people you can trust, and be willing to be vulnerable with them. Love and trust them, and let them do the same for you. Life is going to be incredibly lonely if you stick to yourself. College is the perfect time to reach out to those around you. I guarantee you’ll find someone that you relate to is some way or another. Get to know people, find people and learn their stories, and tell them yours. Open your eyes to the beauty of the people around you.

 

M- Meet people. Learn how to initiate conversation and introduce yourself. Join clubs and go to events. Say hello to people, and be willing to get to know them, you never know who might become your best friend. Be willing to offer a smile to a stranger. Say hello to people when you pass in the hall, instead of just texting. Go get coffee with people. Go as to sit down at the dinner table with a random person in Casado. Get out there and find the light in the people around you.

 

M- Mean it. Be honest. Learn to listen. Be present. Don’t be afraid to put down your phone, turn off the video games and go live in the world every now and then, you’ll be amazed at what you find. Live fully, don’t be apathetic, dive in and embrace everything you do, from your schoolwork to your hobbies.

 

U- Understand. Know that everyone is different: we all have our own stories. Be willing to listen and hear other people’s and realize that it’s not just okay to be different: it’s amazing. Everyone is their own person with their own thoughts and beliefs and backgrounds. You are your own person, so let others be their own person, and learn to love them through that.

 

N- Nice. Be nice. Just be kind to everyone you meet. Everyone has crap they’re going through, don’t make it worse. Learn to love the people around you. Pick up trash and be nice to the Earth. Give people a smile. Hug your family. High five your friends, or random strangers. Do your part in bringing light to this world.

 

I- Invest. Find close friends, and invest in them. Find the groups, teams, and jobs on campus that you love, and invest in them. Be willing to give your time and effort. It’s worth it. You only get out what you put in. YOGOWYPI. Super cliche, but even more true. You’re only here once, might as well take advantage of it.

 

T- Trust God. God is amazing. It’s completely incomprehensible. God is huge. God is everything. Trust that God knows what’s going on in your life and that there are things happening that are beyond your control or comprehension. And that it is good.

 

Y- Yes. Say yes. But in moderation. Take advantage of some of the amazing opportunities life offers. Face your fears. Take risks. It’s never too late to start living. Some of the best memories of your time in college are going to be the times you said yes to a random adventure with your friends, or when you decided to join that club that interested you. Join choir or band or theater, you never know who you might end up meeting that could become your best friend for life. Join the sports teams, be a part of the brother and sisterhoods here on campus.

 

And as a bonus tip: Don’t forget to Love. Love is the key to all of this. Love of self, neighbor, the world, God, school, work, etc. Love is the answer. Love is the key. Love is. Love.

 

Photo made available by Baim Hanif via Unsplash

“The Orville: Tackling Social Media” by Chelsea DeClue

Social media has taken a pervasive role in the daily lives of many internet users. Since 2012, the average daily user has increased their social media usage from 90 minutes a day to over 135 minutes a day. Previously, social media usage has been correlated with an increase in mental health disorders such as depression, low self worth, and anxiety. Still, recent studies have indicated that this increase may be due to the way we use social media, rather than how much we use it.

Enter into the mix The Orville, at times a bizarre parody of Star Trek and at times just bad TV. Terrible humor aside, The Orville does what so many other Star Trek series have done in the past: it explores social issues that are prominent in today’s society. Since the start of the series, the writers have explored the ethical and moral standing of issues such as gender reassignment surgery, theocratic governments, religious based warfare, and the social impact an advanced society can have on a more primitive society.

The seventh episode of the series, “Majority Rule,’ opted to explore the impact of social media on society. A quick warning, spoilers will follow.

In “Majority Rule”, the crew of the USS Orville arrive at a planet that resembles 21st century Earth to find two anthropologists who have been out of contact for over a month. In a deviation from the judicial system we might be familiar with, Sargas 4 utilizes a form of social media to pass judgement. Every citizen is linked into a “main feed” by wearing badges given to them when they turn 18. Each badge has two buttons, a down vote and an up vote, which affects their overall standing within the “main feed.”

Each person’s standing in society is affected by their down vote totals. They are encouraged to share videos of other citizens to the “main feed.” The morning news broadcast consists of various apology tours for those who have reached so many down votes. After 1,000,000 down votes, a person is considered a felon and must go on those apology tours. After 9,000,000 million votes, they’re considered guilty. After 10,000,000, they’re “corrected,” a process which removes all negative traits to prevent recurrences of undesired behaviors, before being reintegrated into society.

This “main feed” system is used to decide other things within society as well. At one point in time during the episode, it’s shown that something such as accepting a new vaccine or diet is dictated by the majority vote. As one of the Sargonian characters mentions, something is right or wrong based on what the majority says. Something’s acceptability or someone’s guilt or innocence is dependant solely upon the majority opinion. The majority rules.

Now, without going into much further detail about the episode itself, we can naturally expect that the crew will get caught up in this system to some end result or another. It wouldn’t be a Star Trek parody otherwise, and naturally in that Trek fashion, the main characters eventually all escape with their lives, but not without making an impact on the planet below. In the closing scene, our main Sargonian character ends up abstaining from the next vote, her perception of the system forever changed by the visitors from space.

Ultimately, that’s all that social media is. A game of perception and people using that game to their advantage. Sure, we don’t use Facebook to determine if someone is guilty or innocent of a perceived crime, but as we’ve seen recently, Facebook was allegedly used by Russia to attempt to change our perception of the candidates during the 2016 election. It’s used to promote both sides of the vaccination movement, gun control, environmental issues, or any number of other things which impact our lives and the lives of those around us. But we also use to it make judgements about our own lives as they compare to the lives of those around us. Regardless, the view we are given is a matter of the perception the presenter wants us to see.

So the next time you log into Facebook and are inundated with all the negativity of the world, or you finding yourself feeling hopeless at it all or see your cousin in Wisconsin pregnant and wanting a baby of your own, think of The Orville with all its hokey humor, and remember: there’s more sides to the story than you’ll ever be given through social media. Then turn off the feed and go pet a kitten. No one needs to spend 135 minutes a day living in a game of perception.

Photo made available by Jakob Owens via Unsplash

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