Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Race Card

To the Chinese, I'm a foreigner who is only here temporarily so sometimes they won't bother explaining things, or think I can't even begin to understand what they're experiencing.

Many young people feel they have an obligation to make their parents happy by getting a good job, salary, an apartment, spouse, and eventually kids. They feel this is a heavy burden on their shoulders.

"You don't understand," they say. "You're not Chinese."

At the same time, these Chinese have an impression that all young people from the West have no cares in the world. They assume that laowai (foreigners) don't have to look after their parents or have a mortgage, and if they don't like their job, they can just pack up and go backpacking for a year. Or two.

I try to explain that not all laowai are like this, but they can't seem to get this stereotype out of their heads. This is probably because most of the foreigners they encounter are probably backpackers or fresh grads teaching English to help fund their travel expenses through Asia.

I wish the Chinese could understand that even if I'm not Chinese to them, that I can still relate to their filial pressures. And that they do have a choice to walk away and pursue what they really want to do. They think the pressure to conform to the status quo is uniquely Chinese. But little do they realize it's really universal.

1 comment:

ks said...

despite 'anti-four ancient 'purges years ago some of the old confucian thoughts still alive and well here. there are set type of family societal relationships dictated by the doctrines people have to follow.