Davis in a grocer market aisle, lined by the flags of Latin American countries

What Country are you from, anyway?

206

The United Nations recognizes 206 “sovereign states”.

But that’s only part of the story.

According to Joan, Taiwan is not a country.

According to Darich, Puerto Rico is a country.

According to Glenn, Hania Robaszkiewicz & Justa Sobótka are from Mexico.

You can read about all the above, here.

Is anybody from London?

Surprisingly, I’ve never received a single CouchSurfing request from anyone in the United Kingdom.

Sort of.

  • Ida & Czarek (Poland) who live & work in London have visited.
  • Eleonora P (Italy) who lives & works in London has visited.
  • Marta (Spain) is an art student in London, and will be here in April.

That’s a lot of “London,”… but no “British”?

Maybe you have to go to the pub in Hong Kong to find “British” people?

The Bangladeshi from Kuwait

When Saeef told me that he was born & raised in Kuwait, that he’d spent his entire life, except for these past few years at an American university, in Kuwait, well, I thought that made him from Kuwait.

But he says that his parents would never say he was from Kuwait. Like themselves, they’d say he was from Bangladesh. Even though he’s never in his life lived there!

Being born in Kuwait doesn’t make you a citizen. It makes you a resident. And if you don’t reside there at least 1 day every 6 months, you aren’t a resident anymore. In May it’ll be 6 months for Saeef, and since he doesn’t plan to return between now and then, he will soon be unable to enter the land of his birth. Meanwhile, his student visa in the USA is good till 2017, and he’s already got an employer, so he has a decent shot at the work visa lottery, but he also has a chance of being out of the United States and Kuwait, and sent to that country he’s never lived in, Bangladesh.

So where is Saeef from?

The Silk Road

It was interesting to learn a little bit about Kazakhstan. A country that is ethnically Asian, culturally Russian, and religiously Muslim. A crossroads of so many influences. When I asked Bauyrzhan whether he thought Country or Age had the bigger impact on who you were, he replied:

Education

To Bauyrzhan the culture and geography of your home, and your age cohort, were both less relevant than your level of education. For those who’ve had access to education, they are more defined by that than by other factors.

I’ve chosen to welcome people from 100 countries into my home. With Saeef, from either Kuwait or Bangladesh – he puts a pin in the map tomorrow morning, we’ll see where he picks! – it will be 42 countries. Of course, all the visitors from all of these countries spoke English. Some may have been “poor,” but they still had access to world travel. For sure there’s been something international going on in my home these past few months. Eleonora’s Venezuelan Breakfast was a different experience from Bianca & Mike’s Austrian Christmas. But am I really welcoming 100 countries? Or running a youth hostel for students of global culture?

The Artist from Beijing / London / Málaga visits Los Angeles

I just got a CS request from Marta, an artist who is from Málaga, Spain. She’s an art student at Kingston University, London. Only she’s in Beijing, not London, because this student from London is doing an exchange program at the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing.

So where is Marta “from”?

Perhaps as Bauyrzhan suggested, more than a citizen of Spain, or a “citizen” of the Millennial Generation, Marta is a citizen of Education. A citizen of Global Culture. It will be interesting to meet Marta and hear her thoughts on this.

Where is Marta from?
Where is Bauyrzhan from?
Where is Saeef from?
Where are you from?

Is Taiwan a country?
Is Puerto Rico?
What country do you call “home”?

Davis in a grocer market aisle, lined by the flags of Latin American countries
Davis (Panama) shopping at the Latin American market here in New Taipei (Rosemead)

What are your educational insights?