TC People – Sidney Choi

Meet Sidney from Malaysia, Singapore, Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong but holds a Canadian passport.  

Hello! I’m Sidney Choi, a current senior in a Hong Kong international high school. To give a brief introduction into my cultural background: I was born in Malaysia but I spent my childhood growing up in Singapore, Shanghai, Beijing and now, Hong Kong.  I hold a Canadian passport despite having never lived there.  

I’ve always struggled to answer the question, “So, where are you from?” and the equally dreaded enquiries about my home country.  I’ve lived a majority of my life in different parts of China, but I’ve struggled to identify myself as Chinese as my native tongue is English.  Over the years, I’ve managed to curate a word bank of an assortment of countries and nationalities to pull my answers from, depending on whichever word comes first, whether it be ‘Canadian,’ ‘Cantonese,’ ‘Chinese Malaysian,’ and sometimes just the blunt answer of my ethnicity, ‘Chinese.’  Sometimes my efforts to keep my answer short don’t go as plan and I find myself repeating the phrase, “You want the long story or the short story?” to the now wide-eyed askers.

The definition of home might be more difficult for a TCK, like myself, to answer in comparison to other kids around the world who have planted their roots in one place and have seldom left. While families like mine find ourselves packing our household items more often in our short childhood than the average person does in a lifetime.

“No definite home”

At this point in my life, I don’t think I can consider any of the places I’ve lived in or have any family connection to as my definite home.  I used to say that Malaysia was home, as it’s always been there for me. Every single summer where my sister, my mum, sometimes my Dad, and I would travel back with the intent to see my mother’s family and my extended family (and, of course, gain a couple of pounds from eating all the food we’d been deprived of all school year.)  But after 17 years of the ‘TCK cycle,’ I think I now believe that home isn’t a physical place (to me, at least) anymore. I believe that ‘home’ isn’t concrete, but rather it’s fluctuating sense of belonging and drudging through unfamiliarity to get to a point of being content and safe.  Home has been Malaysia, Singapore, Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong, and it’ll probably continue to be the definition of every single place I add to my list of ‘Places I’ve Lived In.’

“More confused than certain”

My fluctuating sense of home definitely contributes to my personal dilemma of ‘what’ and ‘who’ I am.  Having so many cultural connections, through both blood and experiences, I find myself more often confused about my cultural identity than absolutely certain.  But even now, looking back at all the people I’ve met, my growing sense of self and memories, I’m truly grateful for being brought up as a Third Culture Kid.

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