Growing up in Los Angeles

I guess it was the conversations I’ve been having with my friend at work, comparing how we grew up, that have me thinking about how I grew up. It isn’t something I’ve never thought about before, but I am looking at it in a new light. One of the biggest things is how the area of Los Angeles I grew up in was so ethnically diverse. If you didn’t know, LA is a city, yes, but it is also a county – so I grew up in a city inside LA county. To describe this, you could just look at my neighbors. Across the street was a first generation Pakistani family – the dad was a doctor. To our left was a first generation

Mexican family. Our closest family friends growing up were first generation Lebanese. It wasn’t all like this. The majority of Los Angelinos are, however, first or second generation. You could even just take me as an example. My dad was born and raised in Japan. My mom was born in Peru, lived in Ghana, other countries and then largely in Japan. My mom’s side is from Texas, and her side is of mixed European decent – stemming from Mayflower times. On the other hand, my dad’s mom is full Norwegian – a second generation (or third). And my dad’s dad is full Assyrian – second or third generation. Now, I do call myself American. But just look at how confusing my family history is.

In stark contrast, look at my co-workers’. Her last name is ‘Hanawa’. ‘Hana’ in Japanese means flower. Hmm…and to no one’s surprise but mine her parents are to this day…flower farmers. Yes. They raise flowers and sell them. It is part of her last name! Meaning, it is possible that her ancestors first were flower farmers and the tradition has remained intact. Incredible. Her neighbors are all Japanese. Her friends – all Japanese. You get it. Japan is largely homogeneous (98.6% pure Japanese). Sure, things are changing but we are talking about 50 years of change – and small amounts of it too. Foreigners are still a small majority in the country. On top of that, she grew up in a very small town. Unlike LA where people are always in and out, people are moving and leaving, coming and going. Most of her life, most of the city’s life is/was stagnant.

These are just a few examples that I had to jot down before I forget. What about in your life? Please feel free to share – it is obvious we all have different experiences.

On that note…

When I see another foreigner in my small town in Japan. I`m like…