July 13, 2008 § Leave a comment

>According to some studies, “Queens is the most ethnically diverse 115 square miles on earth.”

This morning, Astoria was visited by National Geographic and IBM for a genealogy project, a five-year endeavor “using DNA as a study tool to map how humankind populated the planet.”

Along with hundreds of other neighborhood folks, Kim and I stood in line to participate in the project.

Helicopters with cameras circled above.

We had to swab the insides of our mouths. The samples will be sent to a lab and in October, the television crew will return to Queens to reveal the results of our genetic makeup. Unfortunately, women can only find out their matrilineal descent from this study. My father’s family is much darker, and I would like to learn more about the origins of his side, but you need a Y-chromosome to access this information. Kim’s father’s side is interesting because her father’s grandparents hid their Jewish identity. Additionally, some of her father’s family may be buried right here in Queens.

We couldn’t help ourselves; we (more than) consented to be on camera.

Dr. Spencer Wells, host and geneticist of The Genographic Project

The street fair was swarming with camera crews.

Dr. Wells, who is about as white as they come reddened over the course of the day. His next stop is Malaysia and I hope he remembers to wear sunscreen while he’s there.

Each participant had a quick photography session. Here’s Kim, hamming it up.

Am I famous yet?

Another amazing Sunday brunch, street fair, and bizarre adventure with Kim.


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