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Introducing: Where We Come From

Our Histories. Our Voices.

Where are you really from? It's a question that immigrant communities of color across different generations are asked all the time. In this audio and video series, we take back the narrative and answer that question on our own terms, one conversation at a time — with family, friends and experts. These are our stories.

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More about this project

I've been asked the "where we come from" question my entire life. One of the times, it was in a cab on a work trip while trying to get to my hotel from the airport.

I responded with what I always say: I'm from the San Francisco Bay Area. I was pushed to answer again. "No, but where are you really from?"

What was I supposed to say? That my parents are from South India but immigrated here and they've lived here longer than they did in India? That, as a first-generation immigrant, I'm often caught between two places, neither of which I feel I fully belong to? That I'm not entirely sure that where I'm from is a place — that it's more like a feeling about my cultural identity and the people who raised me?

I'm not alone in the complexities that come with trying to answer the question. It's more than a place on a map.

The answer often involves a longer story, one passed down from generation to generation. The story might start in a different language and then be translated into English, depending on who is telling it. It could be about food, family, career, language, immigration and so much more. It's oral history. It's a life experience.

Because June is Immigrant Heritage Month, I decided to go in search of other stories. Stories that are as multifaceted as mine, but also very different. Together, they start to answer the question of where we come from.

Anjuli Sastry, creator and producer, Where We Come From


This story was originally published on June 1, 2021.

Anjuli Sastry created and produced Where We Come From. Video reporting, editing and production by Michael Zamora. Additional project editing and production by Julia Furlan and Diba Mohtasham. Additional video editing by Ben de la Cruz. Fact-checking and research by Candice Vo Kortkamp and Sarah Knight. Additional editing by Nicole Werbeck, Keith Jenkins and Yolanda Sangweni. Design and web editing by Alyson Hurt. Special thanks to Wanyu Zhang, André Bransford and Sergio Romano. This series was produced in conjunction with the Nieman Visiting Fellowship program.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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