ONE SUMMER evening in 2000, when Iris Van Kerckhove was browsing Web sites for Asians, Africans and Latinos in the United States, she felt a tickle. 'I was thinking, where did mixed-race people go?' says Iris, whose mother is local Chinese and father Belgian. She set up EAZone.com, a discussion Web site with news on Eurasian celebrities. It attracted more than 200 members within a year. When Iris, 16, discussed the matter with her sister Carmen, the 25-year-old working in the advertising section of a New York-based magazine sensed market potential. Together they relaunched the Web site last April into a free online monthly magazine. Membership of EurasianNation.com has soared to more than 900 and attracts an average of 14,000 visits each month. With the motto 'the best of both worlds', Iris and Carmen hope to create a positive experience and a sense of community. 'But we don't sugar-coat everything. That's why we have provocative articles,' Carmen explains. These issue-oriented essays, churned up by the sisters and a few freelancers, explore topics ranging from relations and family to society and politics, all of which are of special concern to people of mixed races. The essay in the current issue, for example, is about health care. 'Some diseases like leukaemia are of special concern to us,' says Carmen, 'because it is more difficult for mixed-race people to find matching bone marrow.' But readers tend to react most to the two essays submitted by members in every issue. Most of the articles are about the search for their cultural identities. Born and raised in a Chinese neighbourhood in Hong Kong, Carmen says she used to yearn to be more Chinese. She took courses on Chinese and Chinese politics at university in the US. 'Now I'm more comfortable, knowing, yes, my Chinese can never be that good,' she says, making a face. 'I don't have to be another person.' But Iris says she has felt more Chinese. The sixth former wants to learn Dutch or French and go to university in Europe. With the best of both worlds also comes the worst of both worlds. Iris admits that she faces hostility occasionally, because people regard her as one way or the other. 'It's natural that every race prefers its own kind,' she says. But Carmen finds it unacceptable. 'Some people think they are allowed to tell you what you are. They think I put on a melodrama saying I'm both. 'To me, it is offensive. Because after I've taken time to explain, they still discount me of my other part,' she says. Since setting up the Web site, the sisters have learned a lot more about how different cultures treat Eurasians. More importantly, they have realised how lucky they are to have grown up in an international city like Hong Kong, with parents who have never tried to mould them into being Chinese or Belgian. 'Some of our members had very bad experiences growing up in an all-white town in the US,' Carmen says. They do not believe that mixed-race people are a separate group with common traits. People should not be treated as categories, but individuals, they say. The same applies to oneself. 'It is important to be yourself and value all the things you have in life,' says Carmen. So what about the envy of their prettier faces? 'Oh, I've seen a lot of ugly Eurasians and many good-looking Chinese,' Carmen says. The sisters then break into laughter.