Share Your Hapa Story: Robin Vanneman

Robin Photo 1

Share Your Hapa Story: Robin Vanneman @hapahazuki

Growing up in a quiet, considerably rural town, but spending all of my summers in Japan (I’ve been 14 times), my life felt as much of an anomaly as my name. I would go to the local Japanese public school in the summer, with a uniform and name tag (as if I belonged); I spent the regular school year going to Catholic school in the States, with a uniform and confirmation name (as if I belonged). But internally, I secretly struggled with anxious feelings; a strange place of being in limbo.

When I took group pictures with my American friends, I stuck out and looked super Asian; when I took group pictures with my Japanese family, I didn’t belong and looked very white.

Because as much as anyone says they don’t care what other people think or say, I’m not sure that’s entirely true. At the end of the day, we’re all human. We want to feel a sense of belonging, we want to feel included, we want to feel loved. It’s not so much about a label or a category, but rather an identity. A sense of self. Knowing who you are and being comfortable in your own skin.

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And I am so, so proud to be Hapa.

So with that, I hope my future babies love that their mama makes gyoza with them while singing and dancing to country music in the kitchen. That I make them dress up in a yukata in the summer so I can send a picture to Grandma aka Baba, all while making sure we have matching tacky jammies for the family Christmas card. And that they know their roots are as unshakeable as the strength of the city of Hiroshima after the war, where their grandma is proudly from, and as strong as the heartbeat of our country in D.C., where their granddaddy was born and raised.

I hope that by the time I am old and grey, the word "hapa" is an integral part of our society, there are more Chrissy Teigen’s, Chloe Bennet’s and Olivia Munn’s on TV than I can keep track, and we will be more than a “percentage.” We will just 100% be “you” and “me."

Originally published November 10, 2017 on Instagram, #ShareYourHapaStory017