How DNA Helped Two Sisters Celebrate Their Mixed Identity

by Ancestry® Team

Lisa and her sister Franceen are your typical driven students. One is getting her PhD at UC Berkeley and the other a master’s degree at Oslo University.

But their family story is a bit more unusual than most: Both their grandfathers were born and raised in Ghana, and both their grandmothers were born and raised in the Czech Republic.

They identified as Afro European, a label that often caused the girls to feel different from their American peers during their childhood in California.

Lisa and Franceen with medals around their necks.
Childhood photo of Lisa and Franceen

What would DNA testing uncover? And how different would their ethnic mixes be?

What their AncestryDNA® tests revealed is that your DNA can confirm what you know but still have a mystery or two.

A Double Ghanian-Czech Connection 

Both of their grandfathers, on their mom’s side and on their dad’s side, were from Ghana.

The men were among the first in their families to leave Africa, after winning prestigious scholarships to Charles University in Prague.

Lisa and Franceen’s paternal grandparents.
Lisa and Franceen’s paternal grandparents

While at university, they both met and married Czech women.

If that’s all one knew about Lisa and Franceen’s story, one might expect an AncestryDNA test to simply show an ethnicity estimate of roughly 50% Ghana, 50% Europe East.

What the DNA Showed

Here’s what their AncestryDNA tests revealed:

Comparison of Franceen and Lisa’s AncestryDNA® test results.
Franceen and Lisa’s AncestryDNA® test results

Both sisters’ DNA showed about half of their genetic heritage from regions in Africa and half from Europe. Most of their European heritage was from Eastern Europe, which is what you might expect from Czech grandmothers.

Also they each had 4-5% Germanic Europe in their DNA results. This again could well be in line with their Czech heritage: Czechoslovakia was once part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and has Germany as a neighbor—history in a sense echoed in their DNA.

A New World Connection for Lisa and Franceen?

Siblings can have different ethnicity estimates. For example, your sister could be twice as Irish as you.

In Lisa and Franceen’s case, their European mix was pretty similar—just with Franceen’s results showing traces of Swedish heritage that Lisa’s results did not. But both of their results seemed to show a DNA connection to parts of the diaspora, to Lesser Antilles African Caribbeans. In addition, Lisa’s showed a connection to Afro-Jamaicans.

Could this mean their test results revealed a DNA link to the Caribbean diaspora? Well, sometimes test takers will connect to a community where the shared ancestors are more distant than usual.

One indication that there is a genetic link to the diaspora would be if Lisa and Franceen were to see DNA matches—other AncestryDNA test takers who may be related to them—who are also part of the Lesser Antilles African Caribbeans (or Afro Jamaicans) community. This would be evidence that they share common ancestors from Ghana.

Reflecting on the test experience, Lisa remarked,

“I think it’s amazing way to start talking about intersectionality and complex, exciting mixed heritages and how we define culture and fit into the modern world. “

What Will You Discover?

Sometimes a DNA test confirms what you know. Other times it opens up new questions.

Either way, you learn something about yourself through your DNA.

What will your DNA reveal? Take an AncestryDNA test today.