Karl Olsen: Finding a Cultural Soul in a Multicultural Identity

Cultural Soul -- Karl Olsen
The Color Purple 2023

Karl Olsen, native of Niwot, Colo., USA explains that people often look at him “like some sort of puzzle piece.”

Just like everyone else, he grew up experiencing the culture around him but as a Japanese-Caucasian he felt his physical ambiguity meant people were never quite sure of his race. As a Third Culture Kid (TCK), Olsen feels lucky to have experienced his Japanese heritage despite growing up in a small U.S. town with primarily upper-class Caucasians.

In a Culturs video, Olsen explores his multicultural heritage, beginning with the circumstances that brought one “white dude from Illinois” to his future wife in Japan. Olsen says that he often gets questioned about being a military kid because, how else would his parents meet when separated by the Pacific? But no, his parents met on one long flight to Japan.

Karl Olsen
Karl Olsen on Culturs TV

To Olsen’s father’s surprise, the young Japanese woman was not falling for his cunning passes but eventually he earned her respect.

Olsen recalls his dad telling him the first time he realized he was falling in love: when she started naming Japanese rugby players. Olsen recounts his parents’ budding relationship and the moment his father told his mother he was going to marry her which happened one night out as she was the first woman to drink him under the table.

Olsen says his mother finally came around when she noted that his father was always himself around her, and that’s why she loved and respected him.

Through this multicultural pairing and the beginning of the Olsen family, he explains how his childhood in the United States was marked by the small town of Niwot, yet he also realizes how positive the impact his annual trips to Japan had on his cultural soul.

Check out Culturs’ conversation with Olsen on XOTV here.

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