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Where are you from? A question many think they know the answer to, but do they really? The idea of where you are from can be a haunting topic to think about for some. I have been part of that some, but when you find your truth and understand yourself you will begin to appreciate what makes you who you are and then the whole world opens up.

For the most part, many people think they are just from one place and often call it boring due to its familiarity but that one place may hold so much more history behind this cloudy veil of the familiar. I was born and raised in the United States of America but besides that, I have so much more culture and expandability beyond those borders.

My parents are both South American and resided in the States for a long time. Growing up there I took for granted that there wasn’t much special about it. As I matured more and started to look deeper within myself to discover “who am I,” I realized the rich history of my family and just how far my culture and lineage spans. To simply ask where I’m from, would not satisfy who I am.

Until now I have had multiple uncomfortable moments when people asked me where I’m from and sometimes when I recall think my responses I ask myself why did I say that! I simply did know exactly what to say. Those awkward responses, and nervous uncertainties generated became the gate opener to my identity, and little did I know I would run into the gate multiple times.

Throughout my youth, I continued to be questioned about my origins and with each of these opportunities I aimed to be authentic but I could never answer with assuredness. One time, a much younger and naive me thought it would funny to say I was from Brazil and the person said, “Oh, that’s so cool. So am I. Do you speak Portuguese?” I embarrassingly hesitated and said, “Yes,” knowing that my answer was untruthful. The stranger then tried to speak to me in their native language and me being young and not yet fluent in Portuguese ran away ashamed.

This story on the surface may seem small; however; it marks a pivotal moment pertaining to unmasking my identity mystery as I learned that day moving forward that I needed an actual answer for this common question since people want to know, and because I move so much I am asked this question many times! This continues to be the case in Taiwan which is the most recent place I get to call home. Although the questions were at first difficult to answer I have learned to own my culture and have settled into a comfortable response.

What makes my experience singularly unique that has led to a big cultural awakening for me is the fact that in my short time I have lived in four different countries on several different continents and created my ideology. Possessing this unique experience is a gift and has helped me to understand why I am conflicted when I am questioned about where I am from because I am not from a singular place. Unfortunately, I recognize that it’s common to be or feel out of place when you are in a country that isn’t your own and desiring to be a part of the culture, I am at a loss as to my complete answer. I have found, however, that food can be a common denominator among and between cultures so now when I’m uncomfortable, I talk about food. I have found that upon hearing someone say “I love it” is the music that gets everyone on the dance floor. Through food and learning how to solve this often puzzling question has taught me to love and not to underappreciate just how far lineage goes and how far it can take you in knowing where you are truly from.

© Diego Heredia. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team and we can put you in touch with the author’s teacher.