I’d usually be reluctant to write my full name on the internet, but I think it says a lot about who I am and where I am from. I love watching peoples’ expressions turn to confusion after they ask for my entire name: Melissa Dai-Li Leah Krassenstein.
Dai-Li is the Chinese name I was given by my grandfather from my maternal side at birth. Leah is my Hebrew name chosen by my Jewish father at birth (my brother and I were also raised Jewish). Krassenstein is my Russian-German combo surname, representing my Euro-mix half.
In a nutshell, my parents met in Taipei once upon a time, got married, had two Hapa babies, and have been traveling the world ever since. After I was born in Hong Kong, my family moved from Jakarta, Indonesia to Shanghai, China to Panama to Mexico to New Jersey and now back to Shanghai.
Truly growing up in a multi-cultural lifestyle, I am so grateful for all that I have been exposed to. When my older brother and I were born, my parents agreed that they would do all that they could to make sure we had a perfect balance between our Asian culture and our American culture. Living in both China and America certainly helped in learning the languages. When people ask me which half I associate with more, I am left dumbstruck because I really do not have an answer. I’m too proud of both halves to have to “choose” one; I believe no one should have to.
I love reading through all of the posts on this website and still get excited every time I meet a new halfie friend. I don’t mean it in an exclusive way, I just feel a special connection with people who perhaps have experienced similar upbringings.