Friday, March 14, 2014

being an asian-american on exchange part II: assumptions, culture, and claiming myself

(the following pictures are from a chocolate factory
and have absolutely nothing to do with this post...)
since my last post, i've come to a realization.
i am dealing with nothing that i don't want, that i am unprepared for, or that i cannot handle.

i'm not.

yes, being asian american does cause problems for me that people don't think about. and yes, i've dealt with rudeness and ignorance and problems. and that sucks.

but guess what? every kid who comes on exchange needs to be prepared for that.

when I signed up for exchange, I didn't do so thinking it would be easy. In fact, I knew that it wouldn't be.
I knew that people would make assumptions about me and my life, simply because I did not belong in their country. I knew I would be answering thought-provoking, funny, and sometimes ignorant questions about how I lived, what I ate, who I was. I knew that I would be representing my culture alone in the middle of foreign life.

I just didn't realize that because of who I am, I would be representing two cultures and not one.

because I am American, people expect me to be American... but they also expect me to be Chinese. They want to ask what I know about America, but they also expect me to know about China and Asia in general and the culture and traditions and current events there.
I have always, always considered myself American and fully American. and I still do think of myself that way. but I've learned some surprising things about myself in the past couple months.

I've learned that I'm painfully un-American when it comes to popular culture, because I fail to recognize all but the most important names and faces. it's rather odd to see that my Swiss friend, who has never been to the USA in her entire life, is familiar with more American television and American movies and American pop stars than I am.
I've also learned that I'm much more Asian than I thought I was. I eat foods that my other American friends don't eat, I've grown up with both New Year celebrations, I even value slightly different things than they do.

I live my life in that strange place between cultures, 
too American to be typically Asian and too Asian to be typically American.

but I am from the USA, and culture mixing is normal.
I am normal. and it is ridiculous for me to be frustrated or upset or apologetic about it, because it is simply who I am and how I have grown up.

So what have I learned?

I have learned to assume the best from people. I have learned to let some things go. I have learned that uneducated people live all over the world, and I have learned not to take them all personally. I have learned that there is a difference between assumptions and genuine curiosity. I have learned to answer graciously. I have learned that laughter builds relationships faster than being offended does.

and all of this has made my exchange richer, it's made me adapt to my host country and my home
country, it's helped me gain a totally different perspective.

in fact, i wouldn't change it for the world.

1 comment:

  1. I totally get the thing where everyone knows more about American popular culture. I think it's just something, as homeschoolers, we are not as exposed to or even care that much about.
    -Ruth B.
    P.S.: wish I was at a chocolate factory...


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