In Aris’s Shoes: A Third Culture Kid Story

Name: Aris Suchinroj

Hometown: I consider Thailand and Hawaii my hometown

Where do you live? New York City

What does it mean to have a voice? “Voice” is a person’s unique set of values.

How did you find your voice? I’ve always been soft-spoken and hard-headed.  I express myself through action rather than words.

What event or series of events led to you finding your voice?

I was born in the states but moved to Thailand at a young age and spent a decade there before moving back to Hawaii and then to New York City. Growing up in Thailand significantly shaped who I am. I believe that trying to acknowledge multiple points of view is essential in life as we all have unique backgrounds and can bring different things to the table. My multicultural background helped foster that kind of perspective. I identify myself as a TCK (Third Culture Kid) since I am a combination of a lot of cultures. My mother’s Taiwanese heritage brings a relentless work ethic and authenticity. My childhood in Thailand brings a respectful approach to communication, and spending many years in Hawaii brings an optimistic, laissez-faire attitude.  And finally finding home in New York City brings directness and individualism.

It’s not the path that many take, but I’ve always been driven by what I’ve sacrificed, which is my family. I left them when I was 13 when I took my first step towards my goals. I remember putting the pressure on myself as a young teen to make something of my life because my sacrifice was too big to be made for nothing.

Tell me about when you finally found your voice.

It’s hard to pinpoint because I’ve always been soft-spoken and hard-headed. I’ve expressed myself to others through action rather than words early on in life, and over the years have gained interest in refining my communication skills. I remember the freedom I felt when I finally accepted and felt unapologetically like myself. I think one of my favorite moments was in college when I organized a show for students who did not get to show their work at the sponsored event. I think it was an example of how my voice brought about a fairness and a win-win situation to a particular problem.

I design for a living so putting myself in other people’s shoes helps me anticipate and solve problems.  But on a big picture level, I think empathy helps with emotional intelligence and that can be healthy in any environment.

Define “voice” and why it is important?

In my opinion, to have a voice means to know yourself, know your values, and what you stand for. To be unafraid of sharing your unique insights in hopes of having a positive effect on society no matter how small the impact. Voice is important because it’s the core of our being and should come through in what we do and say in work and in life. However, it should be done in a way that doesn’t impose on others.

What advice do you have for someone trying to find their voice?

That you have to go after what you want in life, always.  Because what’s the alternative?

Also, don’t worry about push back. I know that I’m not everyone’s cup of tea and vice versa, and that’s perfectly fine.

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