“Being a foreigner, Ashima believes, is something that elicits the same curiosity of from strangers, the same combination of pity and respect.”
― Jhumpa Lahiri,
As someone who works closely with international students and having lived a “nonlinear life“, I’m constantly reflecting on my own multicultural upbringing. There are a myriad of cultures and identities that came together to form me. Because of that, it is difficult to pinpoint who I am and where I’m from. My identity, therefore, is fluid and ever-changing. It, too, is familiar with the displacement and foreignness to which I have grown accustomed.
Identity relates closely to where we consider home, where we root ourselves.
If someone asks where I’m from, I usually say that I am from Atlanta (my short answer). But this answer doesn’t take into account other factors that I consider important. My parents are originally from Eastern Europe and I occasionally spent my winter or summer breaks visiting their home countries. I also speak the language (Croatian/Bosnian). In addition to the American culture, I was (and still am) immersed in my parents’ culture.
Beyond that, my experience living in the Middle East made me aware of the nuances of Arab culture. As such, I am much more appreciative of it. I also connect with and feel inspiration from other cultures (such as Irish and Japanese), even though I am not a national of those countries.
I belong to many places. Many places belong to me.
And while the short answer to where I am from is traceable to a solid origin point, the long answer is one that I am still struggling to figure out.