Nonfiction - Goodman's AmLit discussion

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Identity in "Where are you really from"

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message 1: by Roy (last edited May 22, 2018 11:06PM) (new)

Roy Pack | 1 comments "Where are you from?", "Tell me about yourself." These are the questions that we normally get in the society. To get to know each other, people need to briefly summarize their life to others. This is not a hard question, if you have lived in one country for whole years, since you can simply define yourself by stating your nationality. Nationality contains a lot of information; culture, food, fashion, language, and belief. All the information are related to identity. However, it is difficult if you consistently move to another place. This is why the author of this article always struggle to answer those questions. The author described herself "As a British citizen with Bangladeshi heritage who’s lived in Germany for the past six years and is currently in the U.S. for a few months" So, when she gets the question "where are you from?", she is being confused. She could say UK, but she haven't lived in UK for long time. She could say German since she lived in there for six years, but she used British accent, so it is really awkward. In fact, I understand how author feels about this issue, because I am a student born in Korea, who have studied at China with speaking English. I also struggle with the question "where are you from?" There is no doubt about my nationality, Korea, but since I have lived in China for 4 years, I couldn't say "I am from Korea". People sometimes ask me "Are you good at Chinese?", and I couldn't say "Yes" since I am using English at the school. These consequences make me hard to define myself. How can you define yourself if you live in another country in the future?


message 2: by Jay (new)

Jay Goodman | 2 comments Mod
Your observation about the difference between nationality and identity is a strong one. Where you are born is only one small indicator, especially if you grow up outside of that culture. Have you come up with an answer to this question that you're happy with yet?


message 3: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie | 1 comments I have also read the article, too. And I have a similar life experience with Roy. I was born in Heilongjiang province and stayed there for tweleve years and all ny relatives are still living in there. So, in my mind, Heilongjiang is actually my home. However, I moved to Dalian since I was tweleve years old, and it has akready been seven years until now. However, all my good memeries are about Dalian. Because I was too young when I was in Heilongjiang, all my memeries were blurry during that time, in my subconscious mind, I am a girl from Dalian. Thus, evertime when I went to travell, I could not get an answer immediately for the question like, "where are you from?" But now, I got an anwser after I read the artical, my answer should be "I come from Dalian", because as time goes by, I go back to Heilongjiang less and less, and I know like my future will all happen in Dalian. So, my answer is here, Dalian.


message 4: by Jared (new)

Jared Jia | 2 comments In this article, the writer talks a lot about how people identify others' identity by different locations where they are from. She says that you may get privileges in a community because you are from a specific place or country. If you don't, you may even be treated unfairly. Personally, I am proud of my hometown, even though it is a third level city in China. I have been living in Dalian for three years. But if anyone asks about where I am from, I will still tell them I am from Panjin. I think the location of your identity should be the place where your identity has been shaped. Most of my childhood happened in Panjin with my family, influencing me to be a young adult with my own identity. Without the life in Panjin, I'm sure I would be a totally different person. So I believe that "where are you from“ is actually asking for the circumstances that result in your identity.


message 5: by Jay (new)

Jay Goodman | 2 comments Mod
Jared wrote: "In this article, the writer talks a lot about how people identify others' identity by different locations where they are from. She says that you may get privileges in a community because you are fr..."

True, but what if you've moved too much to be able to clearly trace your identity to a single location. How long would you have to live in Dalian before it was "where you're from" rather than Panjin?


message 6: by Jared (new)

Jared Jia | 2 comments Jay wrote: "Jared wrote: "In this article, the writer talks a lot about how people identify others' identity by different locations where they are from. She says that you may get privileges in a community beca..." I am not sure if I would live in Dalian after I graduate from the U.S. But Panjin is the only hometown I came from.


message 7: by SheldonChen (new)

SheldonChen | 1 comments I agree with what Jared and Stephanie said about the place where a person comes from is highly subjunctive to a person's experiences, and people may evaluate someone based off where does that person comes from. It is true that the author wants to remind her readers to think about the question "where are you come from", I also found the resistance that the author wants to share. against being limited by other's concept. The writer shows her understanding of where does she come from, but she felt limited when she can only choose one option from the long list given by the internet constructor. I also have this feeling when I see my official document saying my ancestral home is Tangshan, which is a place in Hebei province that I've never been. When people knows that my "hometown" is Tangshan, they begin to evaluate me according to stereotype: I speak Hebei accent, I eat a lot of Chinese green onion (which is weird). I feel I am limited as well. I suppose it would be more accurate if I can choose the option saying "my ancestral home is Tangshan, but my family migrated before I was born". In that way, misunderstanding can be avoid.


message 8: by Lina (new)

Lina | 2 comments I agree with what Roy, Sheldon, and Stephanie suggest. I also think that geographical identity is important to define one person's identity. As people move to other place from their hometown or home countries like the author of Where are you really from and as many of us do, people's identity get changed by getting exposed to more than one culture. In my personal experience, I never lived outside of Korea before I come to DAIS. In other words, my values, which are also one aspect of oneself's identity, were mainly limited to typical Korean's thoughts. For instance, in an aspect of friendship, I never thought of making friends from different parts of the world, and I thought it would be not easy to be friend with people who have different nationality from me. However, after I came to Dalian, unlike my expectation, I became good friends with friends who are from U.S, Canada, China, Germany, and others. By moving the physical location of myself, I not only had change in physical move, but also change in ideologies through experiencing different cultures.


message 9: by Lina (new)

Lina | 2 comments SheldonChen wrote: "I agree with what Jared and Stephanie said about the place where a person comes from is highly subjunctive to a person's experiences, and people may evaluate someone based off where does that perso..."

I think Sheldon pointed out the good point from the text - the author mentions about the identity formed in cyberspace. She implies that digital systems limit her and people's identity formation into single racial identity, location, and others. I get what she suggests, as Sheldon said, certain documents do state static information to identify us by things such as address and seems to limit the various identity formation. However, I think digital technology have also helped people to develop more enriched identities. The author said "cyberspace gave us fantasy to lose ourselves in, a cloak to hide real power to play", but sometimes people form different fruitful identities rather than single identity by utilizing that feature of cyberspace. For instance, I use the Social Networking Services (SNS) such as Facebook and Instagram to not only follow my friends, but also seek for people in other parts of the world who have similar interests with me. When I follow their accounts and talk to them by cyber communication, I can construct new type of complex friendship, which is different from the simple friendship that I have in the reality. In those ways, I think people can actually form the identities they seek for other than simple identity that seems limited to the documents and geographical location.


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