Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Seeing Asian

I've had this thing happen to me many times over the past year, that sometimes I see someone on the street, and for a minute or two I can't tell if they are Chinese or foreign.  I know that may sound hard to believe, but I think living here that long has really changed my vision. 

Today I went to Walmart and actually did see a few foreigners.  It was kind of shocking because I don't see too many in my city.  But then after I left the store, I kept thinking I was seeing more foreigners.  I would see a person walking down the street and think they were a foreigner.  But when they got closer up, I could see that they were Chinese.  What intensifies this is if the person has their hair tinted a lighter color, or if they are wearing an American style of clothing.  It's weird....

I do remember that 30 years ago, when I came home from serving a mission in Taiwan, I had a strange view of Americans.  When I got to the Dallas airport, I was shocked at how tall and fat all of the men were.  They also all looked red haired and pasty white to me.  Now I know they couldn't have all been red haired, but that was how it looked after living for 18 months among shorter, more slender, black haired people. 

It made me happy one day when I asked my son if he now believes the saying that "all China men look alike", only to have him reply with a "That's ridiculous" answer.  I also asked him if Chinese teenagers are different from American teenagers.  He didn't think they were any different.  That made me happy. 

I'll be interested to see what he thinks after returning home this summer.  I wonder if he will have the experience like I did of seeing Americans with new eyes.


Rummuser said...

If one spends long periods overseas this can happen. If you visit on short visits, it does not.

Looney said...

Caucasians are all either 外國人 or 老外. :)

Delirious said...

It's interesting Looney that so many Americans I know get offended by the term "Lao wai"老外 . I have always thought of it as a sort of term of endearment, and have never really heard it used in a negative way.