Jaed Coffin grew up in Maine and Vermont with a Thai mother and an American father. In his youth he rarely noticed that his appearance and family structure differed from his white American friends. But as a teenager Jaed began to explore his "Thai-ness." It led him back to his mother’s native village in Thailand, where he was ordained as a Buddhist monk for a period of time. He’s just published his first book, "A Chant to Soothe Wild Elephants," about his time as a monk and his struggle to forge his own identity.
VPR’s Jane Lindholm spoke with Coffin and Lorrie Smith, a Professor of English at St. Michael’s College who teaches classes on race and culture about the complicated issue of multi-ethnic identity.