Episode 13 of the I Am Multicultural Podcast is the story of a blond American third culture kid Nathan Holritz, who wanted to belong in a place where no one looked like him and how he learned to relate to others while in Japan.

 

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In today’s episode, I speak to Nathan Holritz, father of 2, minimalist and CEO and owner at Photographers Edit about this third culture experience as a blond foreigner or “gaijin” growing up in Japan and what he did to immerse himself in the Japanese culture, even though he looked distinctly different from everybody else in his neighborhood.

We discuss:

  • Growing up as a gaijin “foreigner” in Japan and learning how to assimilate as a third culture Japanese kid
  • Living in the rice paddy communities in Japan as a blond American third culture Japanese kid
  • Immersing oneself in Japanese culture and traditions
  • Being the center of attention for looking distinctly different from everybody else and being made fun of for not being good enough in soccer
  • Facing challenges while trying to assimilate when returning to your parent’s own culture as a third culture Japanese kid
  • Incorporating third culture Japanese principles into one’s value set and exposing your kids to Japanese language and culture
  • What Nathan’s multicultural experience taught him about building relationships

 

Nathan Holritz Third Culture Kid Japanese I Am Multicultural Podcast

Nathan Holritz surrounded by the local Japanese kids, who would request pieces of his blond hair.

 

Nathan Holritz Third Culture Kid Japanese I Am Multicultural Podcast

 

Nathan Holritz shares:

  • 25:58 – Make friends because at the end of the day solid friendships, relationships are going to carry you through tough times where maybe some people aren’t treating you as well or as nicely. You still have your group, even if it’s two or three friends that you can go back to that have your back.
  • 28:41 – Strong relationships start with connections over something that you can relate to. Find something in common with the other person and focus on that even if it’s just one thing, focus on that thing that you have in common. At the end of the day, there are so many different cultural nuances and the hundreds or even thousands of cultures around the world, but we still have certain things in common. There may be differences, but focusing on those things that we have in common can make all the difference in the world.
  • 30:18 – Part of the reason, whether it’s with your own culture or other cultures, that you don’t connect with somebody is because of fear of some type. One of the quickest ways to get past that for you or help somebody else get past that fear rather is to smile and help them know by looking at you that you’re a friendly person. You can do that in different ways, but the easiest way to do that visually is to smile. Make them feel comfortable, give them a genuine smile. You never know what that might start conversationally and then ultimately in a friendship.
  • 44:47 – The meaning that you give something will translate to the way that you respond to it or engage with it, whether that’s a person or a situation or a combination of the above. It is, at the end of the day, what you make of it, and taking responsibility for your life as you recognize that fact can make all the difference in the world and in becoming the best version of you that you can be.

 

Nathan Holritz Third Culture Kid Japanese I Am Multicultural Podcast

The Holritz family moved south to the island of Kyushu and a city (and its suburbs) called Kagoshima.

Nathan Holritz Third Culture Kid Japanese I Am Multicultural PodcastNathan Holritz making “mochi” or “omochi” around the New Year. In Japan, omochi is used in god shelves as a gift to the ancestors, as a New Year’s celebratory food, and as an everyday snack.

 

Nathan Holritz Third Culture Kid Japanese wearing knee high socks I Am Multicultural PodcastNathan Holritz Third Culture Kid Japanese I Am Multicultural Podcast

Nathan Holritz with the Japanese junior high soccer team where he was given a hard time because he didn’t yet have strong soccer skills.

Learn more about Nathan Holritz:

Nathan Holritz Third Culture Kid Japanese I Am Multicultural Podcast

Nathan Holritz with his kids Austen and Addison

 

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