Can you tell the difference between Filipino and Chinese?

So I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it… I really would like CulturTwined to be a discussion that includes voices from many different people. I’m excited to see lots of different examples of lots of different types of culturtwining. There’s no format to guest posts, just keep it positive and remember that we all like a good story. Or photo. Or recipe. Or joke. Send it to me, I’ll make sure it is in both Portuguese and English, then I’ll post it!

A dear friend of mine, a brave soul, has offered up a little snippet of her culturtwined life, to share here. I’ve followed Lotus‘s blog for a few years now, and really love her transparency. She writes stuff that I think but probably wouldn’t write, and she chronicles what she learns about living life as she’s learning it. Lotus is currently a sophomore university student in the U.S. majoring in Computer Science and minoring in English Literature, with some awesome goals: to pursue a career in cyber security and also to publish some creative writing. Visit her at www.inmyfathershands.blogspot.com and enjoy reading about her life!

Here’s the wisdom she shared with me this week:

 

I’ve always enjoyed ‘being Asian’. I’m really proud of my Chinese heritage, and I love celebrating Chinese New Year, etc. However, coming from a mixed family, where my father is white and my mother is Chinese, I don’t really ‘look the part’. At school, I have friends who have the same background I do, but who ‘look the part’, or people like my mother, who are, technically, Chinese, but have lived in the US all or most of their lives. The difference between the way I am treated and the way they are treated is astronomical.

An example happened during orientation this week at my university. The new students in the hall I live on were introducing themselves. When Fen, a new freshman, mentioned she had been born in China, she was immediately bombarded with questions – “Oh, how does it feel being in the US?”, “Is it hard adjusting to our university system?”. Fen responded with the fact that she has been in the US since the age of 7, and so she was not feeling any adjustment hardships.

We have a Chinese student association on campus, and my roommate, Katrina, was at one point invited to join them. While I am sure the recruiters did not mean any harm, Katrina walked away offended, since she is of Pilipino decent, not Chinese, and was born in the US.

What cultural barriers do we set up for ourselves by assuming differences, rather than similarities? What opportunities do we miss by automatically grouping several cultures into one huge crowd?

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  • Anonymous

    as a caucasian, i am sure that i have no reference point from which to relate to experiences like this. and i am sure for people of different ethnicity, who have been born and raised in the US, this is a VERY frustrating situation.
    i am also sure there are plenty of people who have very little consideration for what is coming out of their mouths and make assumptions all the time that shouldn’t be made. and i wish i could take away the hurt that causes.
    what i find tricky: i love to know where people “come from.” in other words, where their roots are. about the only people i feel free to ask this of anymore are white people with noticeable accents. otherwise, i feel like i get into a situation where i might offend, which is the last thing i want to do. i just love to know about people and what their heritage is. but to start asking the questions is often seen as an affront.
    does what i’m saying make sense?
    and i guess i do understand a bit of what you’re asking, as since we’ve gotten to know friends from both Belize and Honduras, it has really broken the habit of assuming that all Hispanics are from Mexico. i’ll have to ask the one family’s teen daughters what kinds of questions they get asked, for the daughters don’t even speak Spanish. but with their last name what it is. . . it’s always pretty much assumed.
    anyway, those are my ramblings for the morning.

    • As a Caucasian who has lived in many different places around the world, I can relate well to Lotus’s experience myself and it definitely frustrates me when people assume they know who/what I am. I don’t like when they ask me, either, though, because I don’t always have a good answer. I wonder if you’re right, that immigrants in the U.S. are more sensitive to this…? I tend to think that people are always pleased when someone shows interest in them – as long as it’s GENUINE interest.

  • Anonymous

    as a caucasian, i am sure that i have no reference point from which to relate to experiences like this. and i am sure for people of different ethnicity, who have been born and raised in the US, this is a VERY frustrating situation.
    i am also sure there are plenty of people who have very little consideration for what is coming out of their mouths and make assumptions all the time that shouldn’t be made. and i wish i could take away the hurt that causes.
    what i find tricky: i love to know where people “come from.” in other words, where their roots are. about the only people i feel free to ask this of anymore are white people with noticeable accents. otherwise, i feel like i get into a situation where i might offend, which is the last thing i want to do. i just love to know about people and what their heritage is. but to start asking the questions is often seen as an affront.
    does what i’m saying make sense?
    and i guess i do understand a bit of what you’re asking, as since we’ve gotten to know friends from both Belize and Honduras, it has really broken the habit of assuming that all Hispanics are from Mexico. i’ll have to ask the one family’s teen daughters what kinds of questions they get asked, for the daughters don’t even speak Spanish. but with their last name what it is. . . it’s always pretty much assumed.
    anyway, those are my ramblings for the morning.

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