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**This post was made possible with the support of 23andMe. All opinions are my own. **
Knowing who you are and where you come from can have a very transformative experience. It was this desire that led me to start tracing my family tree and it’s what inspired me to start my heritage hunter project. I know growing up in the United States in a family of very mixed ethnicities I could never really unravel who I was, or why the traditions we had were important – or even where they came from! I have always felt connected to other people and places and so it makes sense that my life would lead to where it is today, traveling the world discovering it’s beauty.
It was however this wanderlust and lack of understanding about my own identity that made me want to connect to the places my family left. I wanted to know why they left their homes. Being an immigrant myself and having a spouse that also was an immigrant I understand the unique challenges, fears, and pain someone goes through. But, today I can be back to my mom’s house in 24 hours or less thanks to technology. When my ancestors went to America they were leaving behind their families with the understanding they’d more than likely never see them again.
Having traveled to several of these places now I can say, heritage travel DOES bring us a lot closer to understanding our own identity.
In Toten, Norway we went to a farm and saw a cabin that my ancestors might have called home, if they were lucky. I learned after seeing archival records that they were in fact members of the transient class, innerst. They didn’t own any land or property, but moved place to place looking for work. Walking in this place I couldn’t help but feel the tears stinging my eyes and my heart break a little. What a difficult life it must have been and why wouldn’t they try to seek something better, even if it might have been an illusion. These things I would have never known if I hadn’t gone.
A typical mid-19th century home of lower or middle class farmers. My family worked on farms here, possibly they lived in this very specific place. The picture is beautiful but life was very hard. Immigration stories talk about heroes but reality is most people who immigrated to the US were poor and arrived because they had limited options in their homelands. @mjosmuseet_ has been helping me trace my family and tell me the stories of Toten during that time. … … … #gjovik #norway #toten #visitnorway #ancestors #farming #familytravel #igersnorway #vestretoten #traveldeeper #lp #natgeo
Tracking Your Ancestry
A lot of people have asked me how I started this process and truthfully it’s easier than you might think. In another post I’ll detail step by step how you can start constructing your family tree as well as tips I’ve come across to track down records and make the process a little easier.
One thing I wish I would have done in the beginning was a DNA test to break down my heritage.
I’ve uncovered a few surprises in the process of tracking my family tree and I am sure more will come to light. MarocBaba and I will both be doing a DNA ancestry test and I am so intrigued to find out what our results will be (maybe to find out his results more than my own!) It will be about three months until we get our results, though typically it takes 6-8 weeks. Our kits are in the US and we won’t be able to get them for a few more weeks. I will of course be sharing a full report on what we uncover.
Get Your Results
Click the link above to order your own DNA kit to being your ancestry journey. The process is really easy. Once your kit arrives all you have to do is read the instructions, spit into the tube, and mail it back to the lab to get your results!
There’s an additional reason to do this now too. If you want to take a trip like I have been and have it paid for, you have an amazing chance. From July 12 – August 3, when you buy a 23andMe kit or enter online you could win a trip based on your DNA!
The Golden23SM Sweepstakes
- 23 Trips to 23 Winners
- Destinations will be based on a winner’s 23andMe Ancestry Composition results.
- Buy a 23andMe kit or enter for free online for a chance to win a trip based on your DNA.
- The trip has a total value up to $20,000 (taxes and fees included).
- Trip is for winner + guest
- Includes round trip airfare
- Hotel accommodations for 5 nights
- Custom itineraries by Journy to explore the local life
- Daily spending money
No purchase necessary. Find all rules here. Giveaway ends August 3, 2017.