November 21, 2019

Ken Francisco Bucheli Nakagawa: A Tale of Multiculturalism and Identity

Ken Francisco Bucheli Nakagawa. His name alone, a curious hint of his multicultural roots and internationalism. At 22 years old, Ken has lived in at least six countries and is a polyglot: speaking English, Spanish, French, and German fluently. He also understands Japanese and happens to be the eldest son of Ecuadorian diplomat, Ambassador Fernando Xavier Bucheli Vargas, Chargé d’Affaires and Consul of Ecuador in the Netherlands.  

Ken was born in Japan, his father hails from Ecuador whereas his mother is native to Japan, two cultures separated by the breath of the Pacific Ocean and seemingly at complete opposites of each other on the cultural spectrum. To Ken, however, they complement each other harmoniously. 

 “My parents come from completely different cultures, and I fall somewhere in the middle. On my mother’s side, Japanese people are known for being hardworking, serious, punctual, and polite. Hence, I’m a very dedicated person and I’m always giving 100%. On the other side, Ecuadorians are known as friendly, open and hospitable people, to whom family is tremendously important. It turns out, I inherited a mix of both cultures.”

While being multicultural may have brought some benefits to Ken, as learning several languages, it certainly has presented challenges for him, particularly in developing an identity which reflects his experiences and the places he has grown up in. 

“I’ve lived most of my life in Europe, so at times I don’t really feel fully Ecuadorian or Japanese. I did not have the opportunity to fully immerse myself or even grown in these cultures like my parents did. In a way, my exposure to them has be vicarious, that is, through my parents and family. I feel more European at times due to the fact that I have had chance to immerse myself in the cultures of the places where I have spent my most formative years. In that sense, experiences such as studying in Brussels or living in Berlin and The Hague have molded me to feel more “European” and identify with a global culture than a single culture. It is easy to overlook that, despite feeling attached to the European culture and having lived in Europe for the past 9 years, I do not have an EU passport or a permanent residency in the strictest sense. I constantly have to deal with visas and residence permits, unless I become a citizen of a European country. Admittedly, this does put a weight on me to decide how and where I should call home, and sometimes it does make me feel like I don’t belong anywhere.”

Nevertheless, this young man sees this pursuit of identity as a richness within him. According to Ken, being the son of a diplomat, and having lived in Japan, Ecuador, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, has offered him the ability to feel integrated anywhere and in any culture. 

“I don’t get culture shock when I move to different countries. I’m not scared, I’m rather happy to see something new and experience a different culture which might enrich my perspective of this world. At University, I have seen that different ethnicities or nationalities tend to stay within each other, but that was never really the case for me. I have always kept an open mindset towards different cultures, so in turn, I made friends from all over the world.”

As for his future, Ken has said that he has been influenced by his father’s profession for the better, showing him that it is possible to see the world and experience different cultures through professional endeavors. 

“Because I barely ever lived in either of my home countries and have started to build a career and a life in Europe, I feel that I am able to break free from the feeling that I must stay in one particular place. My father’s career has greatly contributed to this ability”.

After pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in Brussels, Ken is taking a gap year to gain work experience before starting his master’s in Berlin at Grenoble École de Management. During this year, he has already undertaken an audit internship at Mazars in Berlin, before joining a new finance focused internship at the oil and gas company Total in The Netherlands. He has said that he aspires to continue to seek new opportunities to further enrich his global perspective. 

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