My [Assumed] Chinese Heritage

I never really thought of myself as particularly Asian.

Apparently, people here disagree.

My kids tell me that I look Chinese all the time, that I have “more Chinese eyes* than they do.” Of course, my students say a lot of things, and if I believed them I would identify myself as a Taylor-Swift-esque, Shakira-resembling, main-character-from-brave-look-alike who is Chinese and fat and tall.  So I don’t always listen.

Then, just a few months ago, a good friend of mine told me she thought I was half Chinese for all of the first semester.

Then, I went to get glasses.  16-year-old Lauren was told that she needed to get glasses to fix accident induced double-vision.  My 23-year-old self finally gave in today.  While I was waiting for the glasses, the lady working the counter asked me, in broken English, where I was from.  I told her I was American.

“Oh, but half Chinese??”

No.. just white.

“But your eyes are Chinese, yes?!”

Nope. Plain old white person.

“Oh very interesting.  I was very confused because they are Chinese but blue.”

*The topic of race is MUCH more open here – people will say anything, and it is generally accepted socially.  I’m a bit afraid that this will get me in trouble upon moving home.


5 thoughts on “My [Assumed] Chinese Heritage

  1. Interesting! People think I’m Chinese all the time which probably makes sense since you know me. But I find it especially curious when there are actually a lot of Korean people in Indonesia. As an Korean-American, I often take comments about my identity even more seriously since I often think I have a different idea of what I look like than how other perceive who I am. Hearing this makes me think that “looking Chinese” is a compliment here. I’m going to start taking it that way. Thanks for sharing.

    • That’s really an interesting perspective – thank YOU for sharing! 🙂 I definitely feel like Korean and Chinese is the differentiation I’ve most learned to make here.

      • Honestly, I don’t know if I look Korean or Chinese. Which is weird. I tell people back home who apologize that I can’t tell the difference between Caucasian people. “Sorry, are you Dutch or Norwegian . . . or do I detect some Welsh?”

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