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 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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