Friday, July 03, 2009

I am not American.

In my little city, I am known as the translator of the American who teaches at Longdong College.

How does that make me feel? How does not being American, not being the special foreigner make me feel? Do I feel the urge to SHOUT it out to the world that I AM AMERICAN! Stop having Chinese expectations about me. Stop expecting me to speak fluent Chinese. Stop expecting me to translate my friend's Chinese pronunciation. Stop laughing at my manly Chaco sandals that are not the dainty high heels that all the females wear. In the winter, stop wondering if I am a man or a woman.

The thing is I don't mind being the weird Chinese person who wears African clothes, manly clothes and hair. I don't mind being the old spinster who still hasn't gotten married. (Chinese women get married at 24. After that, they start getting too old to attract any males.) I don't mind being the Chinese person with excellent English.

I don't feel this strong urge to force people to acknowledge that I am American. I don't mind blending in.

I do mind though having restrictions put on me because I am female. "Travelling alone is too dangerous for females." This past school year, my travel has been restricted because I want to travel alone; however, I am kind of suspicious that it might be an indirect no. Maybe they don't want me to travel during the school year since for my summer plans of travelling to Vietnam alone, they had no problems with it. Indirect communication is sometimes difficult for us Americans to understand.

I don't mind superficially being known as a Chinese person; however, when it comes to more complicated inter-cultural issues, I am American. That is when I need understanding on the Chinese side that I am not Chinese but a foreigner.

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