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September 11, 2007


Wendy O


I can identify with some parts of this post and in no way disagree with what you experienced in China, as we did the same. However, I think it really depends on where you live in our country that makes the difference if you experience those looks, comments, etc.

As a Midwest and then CA raised girl I can tell you there were STRONG differences in what was the norm and accepted. I had so hoped we had grown as a nation, but I have to say that now I am temp. stuck in a part of the country that in no way values diversity (okay, broad generalization, but VERY true of my area) it is so much of what we experienced abroad. My family is on parade everytime we leave the house no matter how many times these same people have encountered us. We get stares, comments, and commentary EVERYDAY.

In China I expected this--not a whole lot of caucasians in the country, but here I did not expect this level of intrusion. I know it is because I haven't lived for years in an area such as this, but more so because I thought we had come further.

I am glad you don't get the daily deluge and I can report we are getting out of here within two years so we won't have to deal with it (of course there will be times no matter where we live).

Great journey though.



Interesting comments.

You are absolutely right when you say not everyone here values diversity. I think I referred to them in my post although I did do so rather tangentially. The acceptance of diversity definitely varies regionally. In areas that are basically "white" non-whites certainly stick out more and hence garner more unwanted attention. There are also areas in Texas and neighborhoods in cities (even our little one) where I, a white, stick out like a sore thumb. But my personal experience is that those are the exceptions that prove the rule.

My personal experience is that we (our family) stick out mostly because we're a mixed race family and not so much due to our individual ethnicities. If our family was of a single ethnicity we would get far fewer stares or looks than we do now. We are still a new thing and a rarity so I guess that's to be expected.

That being said there is still a huge difference between being a weiguoren in China and something other than white in most of the US. It was so obvious even our six year old noticed it. We have a long way to go in this country to be truly accepting of everyone. Human nature is such that we'll probably never really get to that point regardless of how hard we try. There will always be those who choose to hold prejudices of one variety or another. I can live with that.

My take on China is that the people have been insulated from and been actively taught to both fear and hold in contempt the rest of the world, particularly the "western" nations, for generations that they are predisposed to being less accepting of others. The logic goes: if these folks are dangerous and inferior to us then why would I want to associate with them? This may change in the future but I don't see it happening quickly. It will be a long time before just about any American family (or Canadian etc) could go to a small city in China and set up a business or take a job, make a living and do well. First of all the Chinese government would not allow it. Second the average Chinese would not accept it. There are no doubt exceptions to this but as a general rule I think it applies quite broadly. On the other side, here in our small city we have folks from just about everywhere who have made good and prosperous lives for themselves.

So, imperfect as we are here, I think we have at least some reason to celebrate how far we've come. China has so much further to go. We can do better and in time we will. I don't see China even making the effort in my lifetime.

I'm sorry that you're finding things so uncomfortable where you are. I hope things get better. One thing we did in China to deal with the stares is develop the ability to just ignore those around us. The Chinese are quite good at this and we took our cue from them. Towards the end of our stay there we just didn't even notice the stares any more.

Thanks for the comments.



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