By Sean Kimball
Unlike most people who are able to identify with a single nationality or heritage, I have spent my whole life trying to find mine, and at 17 years of age, I finally succeeded.
I am the definition of the American melting pot. On a scantron ethnicity question, I am the “other” bubble. I am neither Japanese, nor Irish, neither Lithuanian, nor Scottish, and neither Mexican, nor English, but rather a great big mix of all the above. I was envious of those who could proudly say they were Taiwanese, Venezuelan, or Irish. I was never quite sure what to answer. However, I am grateful for my colorful family heritage because each distinct part of my many nationalities influenced me to be the person I am.
During World War II my grandmother and her family were sent to the Japanese Internment Camp in Colorado and lost everything except for the clothes they wore and the supplies they could carry. After the bombing of Nagasaki, where relatives of mine were residing, my American grandmother’s family had earned enough money from working in the fields to purchase a small amount of land where they could raise chickens. My grandmother and some of her eight siblings were forced to sleep in sectioned off parts of the chicken coops. Because of her upbringing in an impoverished environment, she never forgot the importance of even the most simple items and ideas. She believes that hard work and honesty are the two important values that define a person. She instilled these ideas in my father, who in turn has implemented them in my upbringing and imprinted them in my own mind.
The Irish are known to be devout Catholics; my other grandparents are no exception. Both are the products of Irish immigrants, both attended a private Catholic school in San Francisco; to this day they can be found in a pew every Sunday. I, too, have grown up sitting in the pews of Catholic churches; I, too, have sat in the classrooms where priests teach about the ways of God; I, too, have made my holy sacraments, and I understand the importance of my religious education. Religion can ultimately play a pivotal role in the way that one lives. My Irish background is fundamental to my religious upbringing.
At first glance, a passing stranger may have no idea that apart from my darker skin, I am even a quarter Japanese; unless one knew the history behind my last name Kimball, they would have no idea that my ancestors were once the crown makers for the kings of Scotland; unless from Salt Lake City, one would have no idea that I was related to founder of the Mormon church, Heber C. Kimball. Reflecting on the younger me who at one time was embarrassed to not have a single or even two ethnicities to identify with, I now am proud of who I am. I am proud to be the grandson of a grandmother who lived in the internment camps of World War two; I am proud to be the grandson of two Irish, Catholic grandparents who are the children of immigrants.