The 7 Year Laowai: Part 7 – Safety

I had an English class once where this girl interrupted me to ask what I thought of Japan, and without waiting for an answer, proceeded to tell me that Japan had killed many Chinese people, that they hated China, they were jealous of China. Then she went into Korea. Korea “stole our culture”. You’d think imitation the sincerest form of flattery, but not this girl.

I didn’t know what to say. On one hand, listening to this recorded message, it dawned on me that I was 12,000 miles away from everyone and everything I had ever known…and that according to some people, this, this, blind allegiance, blatant censorship, and self-checking all in the name of “harmony”…this is the next superpower.

On the other hand, she was speaking. I take what I can get.Read More

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The 7-year Laowai: Part 2 – Wei Wei

Those first few years were the worst. You enter a period in your life where you can’t say for sure what you’re doing or even who you are. Each day the same as the last, they blur together like a flipbook. You can only see flashes of what you did, what you were. Little isolated fragments that do nothing to illustrate what happened and everything to add to the mystery.

“Why do you come to China?”, my students ask me, which is pretty much “What’s a nice laowai like you doing in a place like this?”. Well…I suppose I came here for a better life. I suppose. It’s hard to say. It’s hard to know what I was thinking. Look at it like this: I was treading water in the middle of the ocean, waiting for a boat to come by.

China just happened to be the first.

Read More

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Hong Huang tells laowai, ‘don’t assume you can be one of us’

I just finished reading Hong Huang’s opinion piece in the China Daily entitled, “Dear laowai, don’t mess with our Chinese-ness” and I can’t figure it out. What I’d like to think, based on Hong’s reputation, is that it is self-depreciating humour actually directed at Chinese about Chinese superiority and penchants for stereotypes. If this is …Read More

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