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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  • Aug 16 2013: i am made of parts: south african/austrian/slavic/english/welsh/scottish...and more bits....
    Ive lived 20 years south africa, 10 in ireland, 3 in new zealand and two in australia many smaller bits in other places....currently in greece then SA then the caribbean...then im buying a boat and really going to start travelling :)...in other words a mix......
    Of course i struggle with the question, where are ya from? .... i say south africa, and i hear back: ya cant be, you are white...ish! i say europe, and im told: you cant be, you wernt born here....i say NZ, but in an irish accent hmmmm
    Personally i think of all of these places as home....first i am human,and i can call anywhere on this planet home :)

    I live by this story:
    My mother is from Austria and she was travelling through africa towards south africa....now south africa in the 70's had a very odd (for want of a better way of saying) take on the race issue...
    she crossed over to SA from namibia at this lonely dusty borderpost that was nothing more than a boom across the road and a fat old man sitting in his booth surrounded by his forms
    Now this form had the usual questions, ie name, age, etc....and being the place and time it was it had the question: RACE: ________
    So my mother, the pot-stirrer she is, filled in: HUMAN
    Fat borderguard says: No madam, you must put in: WHITE
    My mother has fairly-dark skin and after months travel was well tanned
    But look! she says: i am BROWN, but besides this, thats not the question on the form! it asks for RACE, and i am HUMAN :)
    So this little dialogue goes on for a while, backwards amd forwards, sweaty-borderguard frantically failing to get his point across.....and eventually caving in to LOGIC!

    So for me its easy, if i get asked what race i am.....HUMAN, thats it, nothing less, nothing more :)

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