This question can be troublesome, but it doesn’t have to be.
I’ll be the first to admit that in the past, it has made me question the insecurities I held about my identity.
When the blonde kid down the street told me to go back to where I came from, 5 year old Leah wondered if he meant Auburn, as that’s where I was born.
I grappled with being an Australian born Filipina who didn’t look Aussie, but wasn’t traditionally Filo.
At uni I was a Westie amongst a sea of private school inner city kids from more affluent suburbs, dreading revealing that I was from Campbelltown.
As an adult I’ve been told that I’m too tall to be Asian, and that I must be half something else.
Having said all that, I’m totally guilty of asking others this same question, and I can genuinely say it was out of interest and curiosity. I’ve learnt that it can open a dialogue and encourage an exchange of stories about hometowns, cultures, values, communities and societies. It can lead to a better understanding of differences as well as our similarities.
These days I claim all aspects of my heritage, my culture, and my Westieness with full pride. And if you’re asking me where I’m from, I’m more than happy to chat – but it's a two-way discussion.