If you’re an Asian who was born and raised in a Western country, the question on whether you feel more this or that can be a difficult one. As someone who grew up in New Zealand, it’s my natural response to say that I’m from New Zealand. I’ve never lived in Taiwan long term and fully immersed and experienced the culture first hand. However, I’ve always spoke Mandarin growing up and was raised by my parents who are from Taiwan. It runs in my blood and is an important part of me and is a part of my identity and background. Which is why, a question like this, makes me want to answer it as simple as this: I feel like a Taiwanese Kiwi.
There are still aspects of culture in Taiwan that I am still learning, but appreciating your roots and knowing the importance of embracing both sides is vital in understanding parts of yourself. I think Language plays a significant role, because the Language I speak reflects a part of me. That is why to speak English and to speak Mandarin is important, because they reflect my upbringing in New Zealand, and they reflect my Taiwanese background. As an Asian, it’s a natural assumption to think that the person comes from somewhere else, which is why the common question “Where are you from?” is often asked.
It’s natural to ask those sort of questions, but many Asians who were born in a Western country know that they also feel a strong sense of their identity in the country they were born and raised in. We have the accent of where we were raised, we understand the culture, we grew up being in the environment, we make friends with those around us and we will still be asked the question. This is something that over time, I have to accept I will be asked and occasionally given the reminder that my physical identity makes it seem that I’m from somewhere else, even though we live in a multicultural society.
Were you raised in a Western country as an Asian? What was your experience like growing up? Have you ever encountered questions on ethnicity that made you really think deeply about your own identity? I’m very curious, as I know each of us will have different experiences. For some perhaps might feel more this or that, and others may embrace both sides. Whatever it may be, respecting different cultures, races and people in general is the only way we can gain a better of understanding of others. We create our own sense of belonging and identity, and no one can change or take that away from us.