About the Invisible Foreigner:

Born and raised in Vancouver Canada, I  write from San Francisco. My family came to North America  from Canton, China in the late 1800’s so I look Asian, which has always had a curious effect on people. When I was young, the white kids taunted “Go back where you came from” while certain Chinese folks accused me of being a banana – white on the inside but yellow on the outside.

After university I moved to Tokyo, intending a 2 year stay which eventually stretched to 13 years. There I experienced serious culture shock and tried to resolve it with a fervent effort to learn Japanese while transforming my way of thinking. Although a total foreigner, I felt a strong kinship among Tokyo’s sea of Asian faces, while they warmed to me because of my Asian appearance. There, my vocation became that of the person who could identify and troubleshoot the invisible cultural barriers that western companies faced in Japan or Japanese companies faced overseas.

Although I used to be called a Chink many years ago, most people now think I’m Japanese. Many think it’s wonderful that I learned to adapt to a new culture, but some Chinese folks think it’s a shame that I speak Japanese rather than Chinese.

Join me here to share our stories of being a bit out of place. Discuss how to enjoy journeying through the invisible differences that our globalized communities and workplaces experience today. This is about cultural intelligence, and I look forward to our dialog.


  1. I am about to embark on a cultural journey. I was born and raised in Edison, New Jersey, as an adult lived in the Washington, DC area for 8 years and in San Francisco, where I am now, for a total of 18 years. I’ve never lived outside the USA, although I’ve travelled to Asia and Europe several times each. In late 2010 I plan to move to Batangas, in the Philippines, to live there with my boyfriend, and start a business there. I’ve been learning about Filipino culture and society, but I expect I will go through major shock of various kinds.

  2. Best of luck in Batangas!

    They call it “culture shock”, but maybe we should rename it “self discovery”. Every day brings new learnings and insights, most of them unexpected and many of them inconvenient. Those who create ways to enjoy the experience are those with their minds wide open, with the will to explore more and reconsider oneself.

  3. Good Afternoon,

    My name is Eric Cardeña Rodríguez. I’m planning a trip to Sillicon Valley from Mexico City for 15 students of one of the most prestigious universities in Mexico, Universidad Panamericana on the 5th or 6th of March.
    The main purpose of the visit is to get to know how Yahoo do the things you do. Pablo Arvizu told me you could help me to get this personalized tour done.
    The students are working really hard to get their Animation Degree and others to their Engineering in Information, so it would be incredible for them to know how great Yahoo is, how you do the things you do and to learn something unique from you. I understand that it’s very difficult for you to do this but we’re really looking forward to learn as much of you as we can.
    It would be fantastic for the students to believe they can do great things as you do. Please consider this, I would appreciate it for life.

    Sincerely yours,
    Eric Cardena Rodríguez

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