Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A Few Suggested Coping Strategies: Asian Americans Living in China

There are many different ways to deal with stress, unwanted attention, defending one's identity, teaching about diversity, and facing people's assumptions.   Here are just a few that may or may not work for you.

-If you are just beginning to learn how to speak Chinese, learn a few phrases to explain your identity in a culturally understandable way.  Even if they don't understand your explanation, try to find a way to be at peace with people not understanding who you are.  There is really no point in fighting.  In your heart, agree to disagree.

-Smiling, being warm and friendly, people will be more open to hear what you have to say.  Laughing together helps ease the conflict of not being understood.

-Ignoring unwanted attention doesn't always make the attention go away.  Instead it can often instigate people's anger as they lose face because you are ignoring them.  Say hello.  Be friendly.  Toast them with your glass.  Answer their questions and then leave if you don't want to spend the night drinking with them.

-Find a friend or a journal who will listen to your frustrations without judging, trying to solve the problem, or defending China.

-Surround yourself with a local community who is open to learning about who you are on a more personal level and grow together teaching each other about diversity, being American and being Chinese.
 
-Give yourself permission to have a day off from China and enjoy a vacation alone in your flat reading a good book, creating art, listening to music or watching a film.

-While in public like on a train or with a shopkeeper, if you don't want to have a long conversation full of personal questions, put up some barriers.  Don't make eye contact.  Wear earphones or be totally absorbed in something else like a book.

-Take a break from your community.  Go on vacation.

I think one of the hardest things to cope with is the isolation one feels when no one understands who you are and are pigeonholing you into someone you are not.  If you have any suggested coping strategies for that, do let me know.

1 comment:

Justin Erickson said...

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