The premise of this blog is to introduce the “third culture” perspective to evangelicals who might be unfamiliar with the experiences of immigrants and other hyphenated Americans. To that end, I want to share my experiences growing up, some of which are included in my upcoming book, Blindsided by God. I think they serve as a good illustration of how difficult it is for third culture people to navigate not only the culture in which they currently find themselves, but also the one that they left behind.

I was born into the Roman Catholic Church and attended Catholic school for much of my childhood. Most of my classmates were white, with good Irish names like Maureen, Colleen, Gavin, and Donovan. To the best of my recollection, there were only two other Asians in my class. Most people assumed that we were all from the same country (China), even though two of us were from Korea and the third was from Taiwan. Whenever the conversation turned to who liked so-and-so, my classmates always assumed that I liked the Korean girl in my class because, you know, we were both Korean.

In order to integrate my siblings and me into American culture as quickly and fully as possible, my parents never insisted that we speak Korean or learn Korean customs. I knew only how to say my name in Korean. (I also knew the word for “idiot,” because that is what my relatives often called me when they discovered how shoddy my Korean was: bah-boh.) We played good ol’ American sports like baseball, and the slightly less American sport of hockey. I believe my parents’ hope was that this would help integrate our family more seamlessly into mainstream American culture. But it didn’t really work.

Because of my ...

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Third Culture
Third Culture looks at matters of faith from the multicultural and minority perspective.
Peter Chin
Peter W. Chin is the pastor of Rainier Avenue Church and author of Blindsided By God. His advocacy work for racial reconciliation has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning, NPR, and the Washington Post.
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