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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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  • Aug 2 2013: And here I thought I was the only person with this feeling of being from a few different places all at once.

    I was born in Florida and moved to Selma, Alabama (the birthplace of the Civil Rights movement in the United States) in the early 70's. The time period in which I lived there was in the aftermath of the Civil Rights Movement and things were still in a state of change in some ways and unchanged in others.

    I then moved to San Jose, California (the Silicon Valley) in the early 80’s. This was a real culture shock! Going from a place that was very backward in many ways to the place where the technology and computer revolutions were happening was incredible. I went from a place with very little ethnic diversity to one of the most ethnically diverse places in the United States. Living in and going to High School in the Silicon Valley in the late 80’s was pretty amazing.
    After High School I joined the Army and for the next 22 years I travelled the world including living in Germany for 6 years. Serving in the Army and going on multiple deployments opened my eyes to a great many things. The opportunity to live in Germany for 6 years was priceless; I still love Germany and would like to return one day.

    For the last 5 years I have lived in Texas, and when asked tell people this is where I am from. I give this answer because that’s where I live and explaining that I have lived all over the United States and Europe is just too complicated.
    I think that a person can choose to define where they are from. It is up to the individual to determine their “locational identity”.

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