Don’t Ask Where I’m From

Every time someone asks me where I’m from, I have to think for a second and decide which version I want to tell. I have four passports and three nationalities, but over the past few years I’ve lived in six different countries where I learned some of the most valuable lessons in life.

I was born in Taipei, Taiwan, but I’ve only lived there for less than 1/3 of my life.

I have more family members and relatives in LA than anywhere else in the world.

I learned to cook and feel comfortable driving and biking when I was living in Monterey, California.

I met my Brazilian boyfriend in Beijing, China because I wanted to find someone to practice German with.

I started using Couchsurfing when I lived in Manila, the Philippines.

My life was forever changed when I received a leaflet about the egg and dairy industries when I was walking in Washington DC.

I learned what “letting go” really means the second time I visited Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

I first heard of “winter shoes” when I lived in Berlin, Germany and experienced the coldest winter I had ever experienced at the time (but later I moved to Beijing and it was even colder).

My favorite food is pasta and pizza (and I don’t eat rice except for when I don’t have a choice).

I cook my onion really well until it almost burns because a Syrian friend showed me how delicious that was when we celebrated Christmas together in San Jose.

My favorite sport is trampoline dodgeball, something I haven’t been able to find outside the US.

I love the beach, but I also love the snow.

My favorite band is from Iceland.

I almost immigrated to New Zealand when I was 12, but only ended up staying there for two weeks and haven’t gone back there since.

The greatest family trips I can remember were the ones we took to Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore – I still remember how much I loved the coconut water, and having my hair braided on the beach.

When I was in Denmark, it was the first time I had to think twice if I wanted to get a cup of soy latte because everything was so expensive and with that money I could get 4 taco bell wraps back in the US.

I celebrate Chinese New Year as well as Thanksgiving.

I take trips to Hong Kong every year because that’s where my grandma lives.

In Sweden I had my first Art of Hosting experience, which turned out to be life-changing.

I felt so comfortable going everywhere by myself in England that I almost thought I was actually only on the East Coast and not 5,000 miles away from home.

After 10 years I still remember a small part of the French I learned in Taiwan and that came in handy when I was traveling in Paris.

I stood in awe in Bagan, Myanmar, where I climbed on top of pagodas for sunrise and sunset for five days, caught between modernity and ancient civilizations.

I began my process of healing in Hanoi, Vietnam, where I was embraced by a community of genuine human beings who value who I really am, not who I’m supposed to be by the society’s standard.

I shared my story of transformation with a group of open-minded villagers in Koge, Japan, a small town where most people have never heard of the word “veganism.”

I witnessed police shooting for the first time in the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where I realized that safety is a privilege, not a given.

I’m more used to miles and pounds than kilometers and kilograms.

The world is full of wonders and amazing things for me to experience, and I’ve only done a tiny fraction of what I would like to do. You can’t know much about someone simply by asking where they’re from. Where I’m from isn’t a representation of who I am. I’m a curious human being, seeker of truth, and the journey continues.

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