Where are you from?
These days it’s a question fraught with social perils, and yet it’s a good conduit to get to know both yourself and others
I have just spent a few lovely days during the holidays with my wife’s family. They are a really nice bunch, without exceptions. Which is something one hardly hears about in-laws!
One evening, my wife’s mom proposed an unusual after dinner game. Each of us was asked to write a short poem answering the question “Where am I from?” I was a bit surprised. Did she not know that these days even to ask that question may be considered a micro-aggression, whether purposeful or accidental?
In certain quarters it is thought to be rude to ask about someone’s origins, because the question itself may be interpreted as judgmental, or may cause embarrassment, as sometimes there is no straightforward answer. A first generation immigrant, for instance, might consider herself to be both “from” where she was born and from where her parents came.
I get the potential issues. But the game proposed by my wife’s mom also very forcefully reminded me that we miss out on a lot if we are unwilling to answer what used to be one of the most basic (and, usually, innocent) questions posed to people in order to get to know them better.
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