Do you have a foreign name too?

perfil2-akira-uchimuraAkira Uchimura,
Outside USA.

I was born in Costa Rica, raised in Paraguay, Ecuador, Bolivia, El Salvador, Suriname, Japan and Chile (3 to 4 years in each country). I didn’t notice any difference between my friends and I until the
“So where are you from”
“Do you have a foreign name too?” and
“Where did you grow up?”
started popping up a lot since I was 13. My sister was born in Paraguay and my brother in Bolivia. My father is Japanese and my mother is Chilean so imagine how I need to respond to these questions.
Normally I give a full explanation, which takes about 2 minutes and give a short one if I am tired, but I don’t mind because the person is asking out of curiosity and wants to learn more about me.

But I also notice that with questions like “do you have a foreign name too?”, people usually want to have a more exotic explanation of who they see in front of them. Depending on what I wear or how I act that day, I can be more Japanese or more “latino”, meaning that I can camouflage to a full “national” sometimes so when I start to speak, the person tries to look for that foreign part of me. During my teens, it was something that bothered me so much. I had found out that I am a foreigner wherever I went. I was a Latino or gaijin in Japan, and a “Chino” or “Japones” in Latin America, and a Hawaiian or Native American in the United States.

But after a while I also noticed that I had a choice. To see this difference as a negative thing, or to see it as a great potential to become the bridge between my two cultures. I chose se second one and feel very good every time I have to explain Japan to Latin Americans or American Latina to the Japanese.
Looking at this website and on so many half, double, mixed roots groups on facebook, I see that we are many now and the numbers will go higher and higher, until we all become beige regarding to skin color, but to understand cultures and ideas of “foreign lands” I think we are the ones that can best do it if we want to and am making this my life goal.

That is why we started an organization called Nikkei Youth Network and a crowdfunding site called Samuraidea, but that is another story.

What is your 6-Word Story?
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