I have been a dhamma practitioner for almost a year and have been following this discussion forum for quite a few months (I've learned so much from this forum). I finally registered and this is my first post!
I'm a Chinese-Canadian guy who grew up in a very traditional but non-Buddhist family. However, certain elements of "popular Buddhism" have been integrated into Chinese culture over the centuries and as a result, growing up as a kid, Buddhism always seemed hokey and I always thought that the Buddha was "the fat guy at the restaurants" (Hotei) or that the Buddha was a god that you "pray" to and thus it never appealed to me.
About two years ago, however, I was backpacking through Pakistan and I came across many abandoned Buddhist sites (although there are no longer any Buddhists in Pakistan), eg: Dharmajika stupa, Mankiala stupa, Taxila, the Ashoka edicts at Mansehr, etc. So when I came back, I wanted to learn more about the history of Buddhism and that revealed to me a dimension of Buddhism that I had never knew before (it also helped the fact that one of the first books I read on this subject was "What the Buddha Taught" by the Venerable Walpola Rahula). I did some more research and the more I read, the more it made sense to me! And of course, then I started with the meditations.
I look forward to learning more from this forum and from you all!