Monday, 8 August 2011

Where Are You From?

When people ask me, ‘Where are you from?’ I never know what to say... Is it where I was born, where my parents were born, where my accent comes from, where my passport comes from, or where I live? I can give a different answer for each of these!  I enjoy exploring all the possible responses and ensuing conversations conversation...

What is your response to this question?


  1. "Interesting. I finally decided it was okay to have more than one home. One where born and another where my heart is. Where i live. In Gaelic - (Cape Breton) where are you from translates in to co as a tha thu - which actually translates into Who are you from. (nomadic peoples develop a language which relates to clan/ tribe rather than place- although place is a biggie as well) Culturally People are most interested in what people you belong to. (where were you born) So here in CB when people ask, I try not to think of it as excluding me - they are trying to find out if they know any of my relatives so we may have common ground for conversation. However, in Gaelic i find it a pain because i would just like to say North River but instead i have to say Boston where i have barely even been for the past 37 years. Back 50 or a hundred years ago when people didn't move around much- unless they were immigrating - it was alot simpler. I really like the talking backpack."

  2. My earliest memory is something i can't quite grasp, but it's something pagan and being unjustly convicted and executed.

    In this life
    - My maternal grandmother was 6 years old when her mother died, her father couldn't take care of her and so she was raised by gypsies.
    - My paternal grandmother was 5 months old when her mother and father (a servant girl and a lord's son) died on the Titanic.

    I was born to parents of very different views, opinions and values. Raised between two homes and moved to Devon from London 15 years ago when my son was 7 months old.

  3. This question is always puzzling because it is a paradox!!!.Having read the above comments is very interesting for me to consider how people have been migrating 'in masses' over the past 100 years (We could say even more, if we take in to account African slaves brought to America and other Imperialist migrations that took place through out history...or even ancient migrations?? i dunno). Moreover how much people are migrating until today and before I even begin to think of how I can shape an answer about where I come from, the only thing that would be understood in a sense more clearly is that I am a child of migrants (from the Middle East). This 'line' of whether you are a migrant or a native is absolute nonsense to me (because almost everyone is a migrant somewhere down the line)but this also is neccessary to help us identify with issues of nationalism and the way a cultural/religious identity is created.

    The conditions that bring people to a certain place (with in Europe at least) are forces that drive them to leave their home, their land, whatever makes up their identity. ''WHY is that so?'' I think is an important question that reveals very complex qualities about where someone is from. Because, it is through that that the answer to such a question takes a dive into the many 'faces' of someone's sense of belonging.

    I cannot give a straight forward answer. I was born in Greece, my mother is Lebanese , my father is Palestinian. So....may be I am mediteranean? or maybe I belong to myself? Hahahaha what a cynical thing to say ....I can't just belong to myself!.
    Conclusion: Borders are violent!.

  4. I am an American living in Canada, but I belong to the entire world as we know it. As I mature, my self-identity has become less confused and I feel more holistically connected to all people and places.

    Being alive,as human,is my bottom line. All other designations are reflections I receive from others or my own perceptions.

    I do not know who or what the ultimate nature is of my being: my understanding is ever changing, exploring further.

  5. Where are you from? -----> Where are you going?

    There is a very curious notion of time and movement implied in both...

    Asking a tree or a rock or a stream these questions ... a tree's past is inside it, a stream has a source, but it's "now" slips right between your is mainly coming and going.

    and a rock's "now" is on such an immense time scale that we can't fathom it.

    4 words... repeated as a question to people... what brought you into the now?

    On the internet, this question blossoms further! I'm coming to you live from brattleboro VT. These ruminations are from a caffeinated state. But was born and raised in Connecticut (which I just learned means "Big River") -- can you ever return to the place you came from? Is a sense of now, currently belonging, essential to the question?

    4 words! what a complicated question...

  6. Another question may be - where are your loyalties? Where is your heart?
    Also in Cape Breton- the word "come from away" was a media creation- I have never heard a local- born and bred use the term in my experience. None of my friends say that anyways. So and so is from "away", I have heard and wonder if it is from Gaelic. Also "up the line"- referred to anyone who was from antigonish to Africa. It is a good question because it is something i still struggle with when i am forced to say i grew up in the States - and they then say-- oh an american and then go on to ask me about sports teams and politics even tho its almost 40 years since i 've paid any attention to america. (except for the last few years i've started reading about the past 50 )

  7. I was thinking, as I returned from my little urban garden plot in Nova Scotia, that where we are most comfortable, where we feel and experience an openness to our own goodness and contribution helps determine what we identify as "home".

    If a place gives to us what we need and also has room for us to act out in a fulfilling way it becomes one of our treasured places. We may look back on it as a favorite sojourn, we may sense it while we are there, we may look for another experience similar.

    These nourishing experiences become our heritage of place.

  8. my answer to that question depends on what people mean when they ask it/ depends on who i'm talking to. i'm more from the US than my cousins in the former yugoslavia; more from the former yugoslavia than my friends in the states; more croatian than my friends from my hometown in bosnia; more bosnian than my croatian cousins; and the country i was born in, yugoslavia, not linger exists; and now i've lived in new york longer than anywhere else, and take pride in being a local and helping people find their way around a city that's very much home to me. to my mexican friends i'm american because i'm white, and don't stick out as an immigrant; when i tell my name to people, usually i get some pretty confused looks. but all the places i've lived in are a part of me, have shaped me and made me who i am, and in different contexts those different sides of me come out. so while that's my long answer, most of the time i just pick the answer that i think the person is asking for...

  9. I love and don't love this question when it is asked.

    I always want to give something succinct and 'whole' - instead I, myself, am trying to keep up with where I am from; (and as I grow older, the implications and consequences change subtly. )

    I can not say 'where I am from' as 'if' this is cemented in the seasons.

    I am usually happy wherever I am, as long as I am accepted and can make myself and, feel at home. Neither the city, nor desert nor coast have seemed to alter this sense of home.

    But back to where I am from.. Well, a mosaic of places [Arabia, the Far East, Africa, America, GB], interwoven indeed with stories, purpose, people.. sometimes family related, often making the best of chance. I like to define where I am from as somewhere "in between maybe".. somewhere meaningful, without limits/borders.. my home is somewhere that is both informed by tradition and a farming heritage; as well as placed in the here and now of modernity and ambition/dreams.

    Where I am from involves no judgement, no discrimination, no right or wrong.. this place just 'is.'

    Where I am from has perhaps more to do with where I am going than I had ever realised!