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 23 2013: Pico Iyer was lucid as usual .

    I would like to raise some concerns around some possible losses of cultural values.And when that happens both the global citizen and his/her host country are not enriched culturally from the transplantation.

    Basically one sense of home is within oneself.Where one feels safe,accommodated, validated and accepted to pursue one's cultural values,one's investment or business acumen,one's technical expertise.

    We are all familiar with the third culture community and with the growing sub populations of residents/citizens of a given country who are foreign born. If a foreign- born or naturalized citizen/national of a given country happens to have originated from an economically/ culturally dominant culture[ let us designate these countries as A ] ,chances are high that he/she may preserve those aspects of his/her originating culture and hence enrich the cultural diversity of his/her host adopted country.If the same person was to have originated from a country that is of less dominant economically /culturally[ designated as B ] ,the opposite may be true .Hence there may ensue a loss of some aspects of that culture swallowed or diluted by the mainstream.

    I am in no way advocating that we stop global citizens from B from venturing out and or global citizens from A doing so ,similarly.My purpose is to raise awareness that conscious efforts be followed to make sure desirable/ exotic cultural values/practices be maintained and showcased to flourish into the fabric of host culture. For instance; It would be travesty if the Buddhist philosophy of harmonious living was to be sanctioned in communities that profess Islam or Christianity. We have regrettably already lost so many cultures in the developing world when the European or Arab colonizers ventured out into the New World We are also loosing more due to rampant " modernization'' and urbanization all over the world.

    Hopefully; we will learn from history !!!

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