"But where are you REALLY from?"

by Fellow Canalien December 03, 2015

"But where are you REALLY from?"

Although I've spent majority of my life growing up in Toronto, I was born in Vietnam and we'd immigrated to Canada when I was just a year old. From this, I grew up always feeling conflicted between two different cultures - the one I was born in but was never raised in; and the one that I was brought up into, but was never originated from. To Vietnamese relatives, I was a Westerner; and to Canadians, I was a foreigner. I've always felt disconnected. And on both sides of my cultural coins, always had always been treated like "you're not fully from here."

Perhaps with this sense of being torn between these two worlds, I had always had an inherent thirst for wanderlust. Yielding to it, I've lived out of a backpack for several long periods, months at a time, hopping from countries to continents, mountains to lakes and the open road; travelling ridiculously every chance I got... All while subconsciously searching for a sense of belonging and trying to make sense of where I fit into this world.

Now in my twenties, I have found a huge piece of that in being able to call Sweden home. But as an adventurer, traveller, and a person curious about the many different people, cultures and places in this world perhaps my life will always be revolving between these questions that are poignant to who I am. So of course I would be having these thoughts and sharing it here as I start another chapter of my life as a Canalien in Tanzania, Africa.

Here is a TED Talk clip that has resonated with me, and I think will do the same with our Canalien community. It addresses our sense of belonging.. Where are we FROM if we live abroad immersed in a new city that becomes our new home? Where are we FROM when we volunteer to fly across the world to help strangers in underdeveloped regions, and they start to become family? Where are we FROM when we are forced to flee our cherished homeland to seek a better quality of life in a new country? Where are we FROM when we travel to a destination that becomes a part of us, and part of us never leaves? Where am I (and many others) from when I was born in one country, and have been raised and so strongly influenced by another?

An excerpt from the video:

"So let's try it. I have a friend named Olu. He's 35 years old. His parents, born in Nigeria, came to Germany on scholarships. Olu was born in Nuremberg and lived there until age 10. When his family moved to Lagos, he studied in London, then came to Berlin. He loves going to Nigeria -- the weather, the food, the friends -- but hates the political corruption there. Where is Olu from?"

For those who have difficulty answering the question, “Where are you from?” or even the dreadful, “But where are you REALLY from?”: Rather than struggling with it as I have many times throughout my life, see it from a perspective of being a global citizen. Our definition of ‘home’ has defied the strict sense of fixed-geography – wondrously making up an amalgamation of people, places, and things that we’ve felt connected to, and doing so from whatever location we currently resonate with. With Canalien & Co, part of that question is answered. We are Canadians, but we can also be from wherever else in the world, live wherever else in the world – all as Canaliens.

Love, and welcome those around you wherever you are.

Logan Ly

Check out and follow my globetrotting adventures: @logeyly www.loganly.com

  





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