TED Conversations

Kate Torgovnick May

writer, TED


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For people who have a hard time answering the question: "Where are you from?"

In Pico Iyer's talk from TEDGlobal 2013, he looks at the complex nature of the question: "Where are you from?" Because while his family originally comes from India, Iyer himself grew up in the United Kingdom. He spent the next 48 years living in the United States. Meanwhile, his heart resides in Japan. He calls these the "pieces of a stained glass self."

As he notes, in our increasingly global world, it's not uncommon to be a half-Korean, half-German woman in love with Paris or a half-Thai, half-French man in Canada.

And so we're curious: what are the pieces of YOUR stained glass whole? Share here and you may see your answers on the TED Blog soon.

I'll share first: I am a half-Italian, half-Polish Jewish-Christian with a Russian last name, who grew up in the Southern United States and now calls herself a New Yorker.

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  • Jul 17 2013: I tried to answer this and ended up deleting it all because in truth I am an American first and foremost. My background is just a hodgepodge of European mixology that contributed the DNA to who I am. However my upbringing in an ethnically diverse community had as much influence if not more on who I would become.
    I have lived all over the U.S. and discovered each and every state has a culture of it's own. I am grateful for my life experience because I think it gives me a much better understanding of our country and enables me to be far more tolerant and/or compassionate toward my fellow citizens.
    So where am I from? Here. Right here. If we speak you will hear undertones of accents from places I have lived. People tend to hear the accent they are familiar with, so when they ask me where I am from, they are actually telling me where they are from. They are seeking common ground.
    We all have something that makes us like those we meet. If we spent more time looking at those things we have in common, and less time trying to define ourselves, and others, as different, we might be better able to work together toward goals that would benefit our communities and our country as a whole. The more we focus on our individual uniqueness, the more divided we become, the less we are able to accomplish and the more negative energy we seem to be expelling into the world around us.
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      Jul 20 2013: I will have to disagree about the more we focus on our individual uniqueness, the more divided we become, ect...

      It is two different things here. Excepting differences is key.

      Can you tell me what this negative energy kicker or expelling thing is? I hear this term here and there. I just don't understand. I just get the image of Veruca Salt from Willy Wonka movie. Is this right? I don't know, it's very broad and open for interpretation. Maybe this is the image you are displaying in my mind at the moment? Oh, I hope not. This world does not need ANYMORE Veruca Salt(s) both male and female versions of that character.

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