The Exotic Dane

My name is Sam Shamseili and I am a 25 year old professional Latin American dancer. The dancer’s life has you travelling a lot – flying high gipsy style – and I have had several ‘homes’, including New York and now Hong Kong. In some ways you always feel a special connection to the home and area where you grew up and spent the majority of your life, but in the bigger picture, ‘home is where the heart is’. I firmly believe that any place can be home for you as long as you love where you are!

I was born and raised in Denmark, but my parents are Persian, so I find myself hesitating when somebody asks ‘Dude, where are you from?’ What should I say? Peranish?? I think I mostly reply Persian, since we are a proud nation and being Persian is just pure awesomeness, but I always have to add that I was born and raised in Denmark. Maybe I should start to use the term that an immigration officer at Newark Airport used for me – that’s a funny story that happened six months ago. I was going to New York and as I am a Danish passport holder we don’t need a visa, but use the online visa-waiver program ESTA. However, during the past two years people who are citizens of or previously have been citizens of specific countries such as Iran, can no longer use ESTA. That did not apply to me because my nationality is Danish. So at the border the immigration officer asked me, ‘where are you from originally?’ I immediately started sweating and thinking she would send me back to Denmark by DHL Express delivery because my parents are Persian. But instead she said, ‘Oh alright, so you are exotic Danish’. I quite liked that.

“Oh alright, so you are exotic Danish”

What is a local? That’s a tricky one. The word local I think is relating to a particular area or neighbourhood where you grew up or spent a big portion of your life. I am a local in Copenhagen, I don’t feel like a local in Hong Kong – not yet at least! I’m still a ‘white ghost’, as Hong Kongers call Westerners, ha ha!

I find it incredibly important to feel like you belong somewhere and do not feel like an outcast, but in my mind it is all connected to where you love to be. It can be anywhere and with anybody. I believe we all have different connections with each and every person who is a part of our life journey and I don’t necessarily feel better or more at home with a Dane or a Persian than with an Asian or a Mexican. It is all about heart! Spread the love. The world is one big nation.


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Edited by Cassi Zarzyka


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