Where do you come from ex­actly?

Global Times – Metro Beijing - - TWOCENTS - By Sherry Lu

When I moved into a dorm last year in the US, my room­mate made a new male friend and in­vited him to have din­ner with us.

The boy looked Chi­nese and when he came in our dorm, I heard him introducing him­self say­ing, “Hi. I’m Leo from Cal­i­for­nia.”

I told him my name and home coun­try. When I said China, Leo looked sur­prised and asked, “Which part are you from?” I an­swered Xi’an. He then gave me a con­fused look and said he did not know where Xi’an was, or to be more spe­cific, other than Bei­jing, Shang­hai and Fu­jian Province, which is his par­ents’ home­town, Leo knew noth­ing about China. Among most Chi­nese stu­dents, we call peo­ple like Leo “ABC,” Amer­i­can-Born Chi­nese.

Leo could speak flu­ent Chi­nese since he had spent his pri­mary school and mid­dle school years in Fu­jian. How­ever, I had never seen him speak Chi­nese in front of oth­ers, even when there were only Chi­nese around. Once he was chat­ting with my room­mate who is Amer­i­can, and I heard him ask, “Do you think I have an ac­cent while speak­ing English?” My room­mate an­swered, “No, not at all. You are good.” Leo then smiled widely.

Leo hardly talked to me af­ter the first meet­ing. Usu­ally, when I saw him, he was wait­ing for my room­mate be­side the door and would nod his head a lit­tle bit. In the mid­dle of last se­mes­ter, I en­coun­tered Leo in the li­brary and found that he was alone, watch­ing a drama and eat­ing salad in the rest zone. Next time I saw him was in the din­ing hall and he was sit­ting there alone,

with his lap­top on the ta­ble. My room­mate gained more Amer­i­can friends, and I think Leo was “aban­doned.”

I thought about it, and ABC may just be re­luc­tant to talk to Chi­nese stu­dents, but then I found some­thing in­ter­est­ing. In my writ­ing class, there were two ABC. One is from Guang­dong Province and the other is from Hong Kong. I felt sur­prised that dur­ing the en­tire se­mes­ter they had never spo­ken to each other, al­though they were as­signed to the same group and work­ing on the same project.

Once, our pro­fes­sor asked us to con­duct a short in­ter­view with a class­mate. I in­ter­viewed the Hong Kong boy and asked about his home­town. He told me he had never been to Hong Kong, though his par­ents usu­ally re­turned to Hong Kong dur­ing Spring Fes­ti­val. He grew up in Texas and ev­ery­thing he knew about China was from movies, es­pe­cially kung fu mov

ies. Un­like Leo, most of this Hong Kong boy’s friends are ABK, Amer­i­canBorn Korean. I saw him play­ing com­puter games with ABKs in the li­brary and hang­ing out with them on cam­pus mul­ti­ple times. Again, that in­ter­view was the sole con­ver­sa­tion I had with that Hong Kong boy dur­ing the se­mes­ter. For a long time, I was seek­ing an ex­cuse for the ABC kids, think­ing that maybe it’s just cul­ture dif­fer­ences or maybe they are just shy. I don’t feel up­set when they say they are from Amer­ica, but I do feel dis­ap­pointed when they know noth­ing about their roots from their home coun­try of China.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.