My Malaysian birth certificate is an object that brings me confusion. A birth certificate is supposed to identify where you come from, where you belong. I was born in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, but moved to Nanjing, China at the age of two. Four years later, I moved to Shanghai, China. Six years later, I moved to Hong Kong. When I was eighteen years old, I moved to New York for college. A year later, my parents moved to Singapore, where I now return to every summer. I am not an immigrant to the United States and I do plan to return to Asia someday. But what instills a sense of confusion in me is the fact that I have never truly experienced what "home" feels like. Having lived in the United States for almost three years, I already feel more "American" than I do Malaysian. Yet my birth certificate insists that I am from Malaysia, even though I have only lived there for two years of my life, two years that I can hardly remember. I guess my American story began in my freshman year of college, when I moved to yet another completely new place and decided to call this home, just like I have called Nanjing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong home before this. When I carry my birth certificate with me at the airport, it is a reminder to me that I may be Malaysian in name, but I do not have to be Malaysian at heart. Despite what my birth certificate says, at heart, I am free to be a citizen of wherever I choose, and right now, that place is New York.
– Shirley Foo