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Notice! Lost and Found: My Identity in Peru! I am Vietnamese, American, and have Slanted Eyes, too!

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Map of Vietnam
Everywhere I go in Peru the people always appear friendly and happy to meet me. Yet, one of the things I find annoying is that too many people think I am either Japanese or Chinese! I was actually born in Vietnam!

Did you know that over one-sixth of the world's population comes from China, and about 125 million people live in Japan? Maybe that's why they think I'm Chinese or Japanese. Also, the President here is of Japanese descent.

Many people just come right out and say, "You're from Japan, right?" But when I say, "No I'm from the United States," they never believe me. They say, "But where are you REALLY from?" Believe it or not, they often show me why I cannot possibly be from the United States by pulling on the corner of their own eyes, so they look more like mine! This does not upset me, though. I know they are not trying to be mean.

Once, an eleven-year old boy who was selling postcards asked me where I was from. I decided to play the guessing game with him too, and much to my surprise he managed to rattle off about ten different countries before even mentioning Japan. He guessed places like Sweden, Egypt, and Italy, but not the US, so maybe he was only joking.

In any case, I suppose that this is just one of the many aspects of having Asian eyes that appear so different to Peruvian eyes while here in Peru.

Does anyone in the United States ever question what country you are from? Do you always like to be called "American," or do you like terms such as "Asian-American" or "African-American, " better? Please write me an e-mail and let me know how you feel.


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