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Discovering Your Roots

This post is brought to you in partnership with Discovering Routes. As always, all opinions are our own.
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“Where are you from?” is one of the most common questions we get whether we’re here in the States or abroad. Being Asian American, it’s a bit of a loaded question. Typically, our answer is “the US” or “Atlanta, GA”, but more likely than not, it leads to more questions of where we’re REALLY from.

What does that mean though? I was born and raised in Atlanta, GA. Esther was born in Korea but has grown up in the states since she was 2. Our ethnicities are Chinese and Korean, but we identify most with being American.

The last of my grandparents passed this last year, and it got me thinking about my roots. They were born and raised in China but later emigrated to Indonesia, where both my parents were born and raised. In the 70s, both my parents came to the US for school, where they met. That’s where eventually I was made here in America. So my nationality is American, but I’m also Chinese by blood and had some cultural upbringing from Indonesia mixed in.

Snorkeling in Derawan // localadventurer.comPin

While growing up, we visited our family in Indonesia a lot. This mostly meant that we spent a lot of times in malls, playing with my cousins, and hanging out at my grandparents’ house. But as I get older, I start to wonder more about what it like for my parents and grandparents growing up? I’ve heard stories here and there but hope to explore this more in depth on my next trip back.

At the Jakarta Airport // localadventurer.comPin

There is a new show called Discovering Routes that features Garrett Gee of The Bucket List Family and his sister, Miristi, who are on a journey to do exactly this. They are discovering their roots in the Philippines. You can follow along on their adventures with a new webisode every Monday and Thursday.

Check out the trailer here and the second episode here.

The Bucket List Family - About Finding Routes // localadventurer.comPin

Where are you from and where are your roots? Have you visited the land of your ancestry? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments below!



Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, which is one of the top 50 travel blogs in the world. They believe that adventure can be found both near and far and hope to inspire others to explore locally. They move to a new city every year and currently live in Portland, Oregon.

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. I was born in Los Angeles and my parents were born in the US, but my dad is half Swedish and half Czech, and his parents and grandparents were immigrants, and my mother is half Swedish and half Italian, and her father was an immigrant and her mother second-generation American with strong Italian roots and a large family that we got a very brief opportunity to enjoy before they passed.

    I’ve spent a lot of time getting to know my family tree and visiting relatives in Stockholm, Stavanger, and Tuscany, and I’ve loved getting to know the places that feature so strongly in my family stories.

    I’m so sorry you have ever been asked, “Where are you from?” in a way meant to make you feel like you don’t belong. Because to me, it feels like a question that should just lead to beautiful stories as we trace our roots from America to the amazing places we all come from. Because unless we’re from native tribes, we’re all from somewhere. I might be American, but I also feel transplanted, because the fjords and mountains of Scandinavia and the rolling golden hills and vineyards of Italy definitely feel like home to me.

    1. Esther JuLee

      Thanks for sharing! I totally agree and there are definitely moments it can lead to those types of stories. Hopefully that happens more often in the future.

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