Hi I’m Tom. I was born in Latvia. My dad is ethnically Vietnamese, from Vietnam, and my mother is Gypsy-Latvian.

I was born and raised in Riga. I was fortunate to settle into understanding the Vietnamese culture, but only now am I learning to speak and understand the language. Generally growing up though I was seen and known to be the typical Asian kid.

My father raised me alone with no mother and I feel more connected to my Asian side, but since childhood I’ve grown up with Latvians and Russians, and this is part of me and I respect it.

But people nowadays identify me as either Mexican, Filipino, Singaporean, or Korean! I guess it can be a strange thing at first, but it certainly does keep people guessing.

hapa328-3When I was a child I got very upset because other kids made fun of me since I look different and I was not as racially “pure.” In Latvia there are two big ethnicities, Latvians and Russians, and I was the only mixed Asian kid in my hometown and I always felt lonely. We don’t have a big Asian population, and I’ve only ever met three other mixed Asian families here.

But time passed, I grew up and learned to be stronger, confident and proud of who I am. Being mixed is very cool because you get best from both sides.

I am very happy to be who I am. Now I’m in Vietnam to visit my father’s big family and learn more about my roots and culture. So happy :) to be here. I hope to meet more Hapas around the world!

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