Where Are You From?

‘Where are you from?’ Such a simple question for most, but a complex one for me. Read on to find out why!

“Where are you from?”

This is one of the questions that I dislike the most; a question that baffles me to no end. To each person who asks it, it has a different meaning. To each person to whom it is asked, it is interpreted differently. How does one even begin to answer a question such as that?! Let me give you some insight on what goes on in my head when someone asks me that:

“Okay, so I should tell them where I live. Or maybe they’re expecting where I was born? Or maybe what I consider my hometown? Or if I’m currently at school, is that where I’m from?”

All this happens pretty quickly in my head, or at least I think so. Other people might say differently. I usually end up saying, “I live in Georgia.” Or “I was born in Haiti, but I currently live in Georgia.” But do those answers do the question justice? If I just say, “I live in Georgia”, I’m leaving out a large part of my history and culture; but is that what they’re after? If I say, “I was born in Haiti, but I currently live in Georgia”, I’ve answered the question mostly covering all aspects, but it still leaves out some variables.

Whenever I’m asked this question, I always feel obligated to give that person a short autobiography of myself, and the places I’ve lived. I know that’s not what they’re after, but naming only one place doesn’t seem like I’m answering the question truthfully.

So to answer your question: where are you from?

I was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. I moved to the United States at a very young age, specifically New York. Some may say that doesn’t qualify me to be considered as Haitian. I beg to differ. Although I grew up in the U.S., moving from New York to Utah, then finally Georgia, it doesn’t change the fact that I was raised in a Haitian household. I speak the language. I honor the culture. I adore my big, loud Haitian family. I’m a product of both environments, a result of the collision of nature and nurture at its finest.

I know it’s not that serious when this question gets asked; however, I just wanted to share how tricky it can be to answer what most would consider a simple question. Does anyone else have this dilemma? How do you interpret the question: ‘where are you from’? Let me know in the comments!

34 thoughts on “Where Are You From?”

  1. Great read! My family came on the boat to Ellis Island from the Chech Republic and that’s all really know. This makes me really want to look into my family history!

  2. I typically say where I currently live (small town, Utah). That usually prompts the person to ask if I grew up there, which I then tell them the name of the other small town where I grew up. I think this is a harder question for you to answer because you don’t want to lose your heritage and want to say Haiti, but maybe try answering different ways and see what works!

  3. I’ve lived in many places so this one is hard for me to answer. I always end up giving the answer that I’m from where my parents are living still – to me, this is considered home!

  4. I don’t think you owe anyone an autobiography. My favourite answer is “down the street” and I instruct my multi-racial children to say the same. It’s way easier than telling someone about my “Heinz 57” ancestry!

      1. Sometimes it’s met with an awkward silence, sometimes a laugh. I generally don’t offer up any further information until prompted specifically. Then I usually say “I’m Canadian” 😉

  5. Well, we use the opportunity to introduce folks to our little red dot when asked where we are from. And in return we ask the same to know about the place we are at!

  6. Very tricky question for me as well! I’m a happy expat, I’ve lived in 3 different continents just in the last 4 years, but of course I wouldn’t want to leave out my home-country when asked this… I think your answer is the best approach and I might start to answer with the same formula. 🙂

    1. That’s a great way to look at it. Because if they want to know more, then they’ll continue to ask more questions, leading to the other places you’ve lived. Thanks for reading 🙂

  7. I have this issue but in the opposite. I always answer with where I live currently even though when I say that to someone around here they get mad because I’m not originally from here. I don’t feel connected to where I was born and I feel like my current town is my hometown and where I’m from.

      1. It small town mentality, I’m accepted now because I married in “one of the families” but it’s just a backwards type of living in Small-town, USA

  8. When someone asks me that question, I tell them I live in Lexington (which is where I live and have lived for 9 years). If they then ask, where did I go to high school or did I go to UK (University of Kentucky), I say no, and then tell them where I grew up (my hometown where I lived for 22 years).

  9. This question is much more difficult to answer than most people can imagine. I’m a BBC (British Born Chinese ) who used to live just outside London but was born in the west country in England. Neither of these places are the answer most people expect when they ask me, so like you I end up giving a brief life history. Then they probably didnt expect a two minute answer to a simple question. You just can’t win can you ? 🙂

    1. Haha I’m glad to see I’m not the only one with this dilemma! Me, personally, I like hearing the brief life history. But then again, I’m usually a little more specific when I ask the “where are you from” questions, as I know how challenging it can be to answer for some.

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