“I think everyone goes through some kind of identity crisis. I’m from Taiwan and when I was 16, I went to the States, where I lived with a white host family. I went to a private school that was predominantly white, although there were also a couple of Asians and some black people. I remember eating lunch in the bathroom because I didn’t know which table to sit at, with so many different groups. And I didn’t feel like I was part of the Asian American group. I didn’t know what they were talking about. My English wasn’t that good at the time. So to save myself from embarrassment, I would eat lunch in the bathroom instead. That was the year I had a big identity crisis. But that experience really helped me learn about America, their politics, why they’re so passionate about American football, how they think, etc. Unlike a lot of international students who only go to America after college (and probably hangout mostly with their own ethnic groups), I got to experience how Americans grow up.
“Now I’m in Japan. I actually had no intention of coming here. But since I didn’t get a work visa in the States, which is a government lottery, I had no choice but to leave. And the Japan office of my company was their first suggestion for relocation. At first I was sad to leave my friends and the life that I had built in America. But now I’m glad I ventured out. I even found a Christian church that welcomed me with open arms. I was all alone during my first week here in Japan until I Googled and found somewhere I can belong. Most people here are foreigners, mixed-race, or Japanese who studied or grew up abroad and came back, so it’s very diverse. Not what I expected in Tokyo. And there are lots of groups and teams you can join to help you find a purpose. There’s photography, language exchange, or even groups that let you develop soft skills like leadership. I feel like because I experienced those things in the U.S., it’s so much easier in Japan. Up until then, I just followed whatever path was laid out in front of me. Now I’m making my own decisions in life. And I’m here thinking, ‘what can I do now?’”