What is your Ethnic Heritage? This is a difficult question for most people. An instant response of the country of one’s residence is not uncommon. However, such a simple response does not take into consideration everything that makes up our ethnic heritage. One’s race or geographic origin may influence a person’s ethnic heritage, but is that what really defines you? These simple responses can leave you feeling unsatisfied with your answer and almost diminish your self-worth. I have been swimming year-round for 12 years. I have excelled and qualified for many competitive swim meets around the country. I developed friends, competitors and coaches who liked me. When people saw me, they perceived me as a contender and someone who belonged in the sport. There is a certain language and shared values among swimmers, swimming became my cultural identity. Much like Irving, the thought that anything is possible with hard work was engrained in my life through my parents. I had earned respect and acceptance over the years in this culture of swimming. However, I let this naive understanding of a society based on meritocracy shape my view on other individual’s situations.My grandmother grew up on the Chippewa Indian Reservation in North Dakota. As part Native American, but living in a comfortable suburban lifestyle, I question my social responsibility to my heritage and generally those less fortunate. I am left with a lingering unease about the poor conditions of many Native Americans. This prompted me to join other students on a service project one summer to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, in South Dakota. The trip proved to have a profound influence on my view of social justice.I take pride in being part Native American because I know that my peaceful Chippewa tribe was able to endure massive amounts of ridicule and conflict in the past. That inspires me to take hold of the opportunities that are given to me. On the other hand, my grandmother spoke little of my ethnic heritage or the cultural and personal qualities that could have been passed down over generations. Through that summer experience, I was able to connect with American Indian kids my age, and ultimately found that I have much to still learn.Accomplishments were a major part of my identity, but making that my primary focus was shallow and superficial. My heritage is just one example of many variables that shape my identity. I have learned that there are a lot of distinct traits, qualities, backgrounds, and beliefs that go into making your ethnic heritage.