All posts tagged: Japan

Olympics: American family competes under Japanese and Georgian flags

Olympic contenders Allison, Cathy and Chris Reed are all siblings — but they are competing for two different countries. The Reed children were born in Kalamazoo, Michigan, to a Japanese mother and a Nebraskan father. They all have dual-citizenships: United States and Japan. None of them are competing for the U.S. Olympic team. Allison, 15, found an ice dancing partner in Otar Japaridze, 22, a Georgian athlete. For them to compete, the Georgian government quickly ushered her citizenship application through. This February, she marched as a Georgian athlete in the Olympic Opening Ceremonies. She has never been to Georgia. For Allison’s siblings Cathy, 22, and Chris, 20, qualifying for the U.S. Olympic Team for ice dancing would’ve been very difficult. Instead, the two nabbed a spot on the Japanese Olympic team. According the New York Times, the siblings speak little Japanese, and their mother translates conversations between them and the Japanese skating federation. Making citizenship “work for you” is not uncommon in sports. I’ve seen Singapore poach athletes from other countries to have them win …

Not “coming home” alone

I had only known Caleb for three months before he died. We were just getting past the stereotypes. Him: a tall, blonde, cheery kid from Hong Kong. Me: a not-tall, Asian, cheery kid from Singapore. We were both Third Culture Kids, working as dorm resident assistants, attending university far from home. At Caleb’s memorial, his dad read his suicide note. “I’m sorry,” Caleb wrote. “I’ve been living a lie.” I collapsed into tears. Until that moment, I refused to believe that it was suicide. We were so alike! We were international, Third Culture. We joked about how we hated answering “Where are you from?” and the stereotypes put upon us. We were smart, worldly, well-traveled. Why suicide? That was 2005. Today I’m still seeking answers to questions that I am afraid to ask. I still don’t know why Caleb decided to leave. But I am sure of one thing. Third Culture Kids need a lot of support when they leave their expatriate communities. Going away to college is the first time many TCKs emerge from …

Expatriate Patriotism

So Chinese-born superstar Gong Li recently became a Singaporean citizen—and people in China are completely freaking out.  Even though her husband is Singaporean, and she’s lived abroad for years, her decision has sparked an onslaught of heated protest on popular online portals like sohu.com and sina.com. “Traitors like this don’t even love their own country,” one Netizen wrote, translated by The Times. “These people were only fake countrymen of ours. Let them slink off to other countries and die!” “All traitors will be nailed to history’s mast of shame,” wrote another. “We should resolutely reject any further contact with such people.” Um, seriously? Geez. Calm down, people. That’s psycho ex-boyfriend talk. Maybe it’s just me.  I don’t think Third Culture Kids (TCKs) ever really “get” the whole patriotism thing.  Even my British National Overseas (BNO) passport triggers confused questions that I don’t quite know how to answer: “Oh, you’re British?” “No, it’s a Hong Kong passport that just looks like a British passport.  You know, it was a British colony…” “Weren’t you born in England, …