Here's the commentary I wrote:
Although I recognize that I fit into a minority category, let me explain why I don’t like answering the question of “Country of Origin.” Although I put down “USA/Japan”, if you think about it, my answer represents neither a country of origin (as requested) nor a true national identity (since I don’t consider myself to be either “typically American” or “typically Japanese”). To make it more complicated, I was born on Guam, which is only technically part of the United States of America.
A likely assumption underlying this whole thing is that your country of origin is where you grew up and from where you derive a nationality, culture, and personal identity. It was to the assumption of a conflation I answered “USA/Japan” (my nationalities, but not my personal identity). However, in this day and age, this assumption cannot be assumed (something to which I feel the I-Connect Program should be quite cognizant). I have friends who were born in the United States while their parents were attending university during the 1970s, but ended up growing up in their parents’ home country. Since many countries provide automatic citizenship for their nationals’ children, these friends of mine ended up with dual citizenship, and spent most (if not all) of their lives in their parents’ country of origin. What do these people put down on such a form? To report the literal truth, they would have to put down “USA”, since they were born (i.e., “Originated”) in the USA. However, they may well be as foreign to the United States as many of the international students in their incoming cohort.
If the I-Connect Program wants to ask a question about identity, then I suggest that in future it instead ask for a volunteer’s “National Identity” (or something that doesn’t conflate identity with origin). With this question, people in a similar position as my friends could put down that they are of the country where they grew up, and it offers an option for people like me, who grew up as “third culture kids” (TCKs) to give an answer unconstrained by national borders. Finally, it doesn’t change the answer given by those people who were born and grew up in the country of their nationality (indeed, I imagine that such people wouldn’t immediately see any difference between the two questions).
Although the question of “Country of Origin” is not as outmoded as asking for a single racial identity (which is no longer done), I believe it is just as difficult for people like me and my friends to provide a suitable - and ultimately useful - response to the question. As a mixed-heritage, multi-national student, born in an organized unincorporated territory of the United States, and grew up in seven different countries, asking me my “Country of Origin” has about as much useful truth for those using my answer as asking me to limit my racial identity to only one racial group.
Of course, if Rackham asked for some more concrete concept, such as nationality (and for many people, country of origin and nationality are the same thing), merely asking for nationality wouldn’t make TCKs and dual-nationals once again feel issues of inadequacy of not belonging to a wider culture, since “nationality” and “national identity” are not necessarily the same thing. Furthermore, nationality is a simple question, and if the eventual reader wants to assume some correlation between nationality and identity, that’s up to him or her.