Opinion

‘Where am I from?’

Many philosophers have been baffled by the question, “What is the meaning of life?” Scientists have debated over the problem of “How did life come about?” I have also been confused by a certain question; Where am I from?

When I am asked that question, I tend to give a different answer every time. Is the question asking me where I was born? Where I have lived for the most amount of time? What place is most familiar? My answers would then be America, India and the Philippines.

To describe where I am from, to give an honest, detailed explanation of where I am from, I would have to give more than just a one-word answer.

Where I am from defines who I am, which is a mix of many cultures, lifestyles and traditions.

My younger life was split between living in India and America, which brought about a lot of confusion growing up. There were simple mishaps, such as me feeling uncomfortable when the waiter at a restaurant asked if he could “vomit” which he intended to mean “warm it”—referring to my dessert.

But accents were the least of my worries. What bothered me most was that I did not feel part of either Indian or American culture. I wanted to be like everyone else. I wanted to understand the Indian humor and the American traditions. I felt as though I had the worst of both worlds, and that I was doomed to this un-relatable life.

Then, in eighth grade, I moved to the Philippines. Here too I experienced some awkward encounters, such as a man puckering his lips at me after I asked for directions, which I mistook for a flirt. He was trying to be helpful, but I did not yet know that lips are preferred over fingers for pointing.

Although there were many humorous occurrences, I really enjoyed my time in the Philippines and learned a lot from the culture. Filipinos make the most out of what they are given, which I find admirable. While in the Philippines, I learned how to adapt to different situations, and how to watch and observe how to function in a society that is not my own.

So the question still remains: where am I from? I am not quite sure. I will suffice to say that I am from all three countries, which I am actually very thankful for. Living in three different countries, and being a bi-racial person, I have learned to not be quick to judge, as well as to be hesitant to accept stereotypes.

I have taken the sacrificial Filipino, the hard-working Indian and the egalitarian American, and tried to apply them to my own life. Different cultures have much to offer, and I am very thankful for what God has taught me through each of them.