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Sunday, June 23, 2024

An Preliminary Reflection on Identification in China

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Written by Angelreana Choi (Yale College), Scholar Correspondent for CET Beijing, Summer season 2023

After experiencing a lot racism rising up in a conservative city in rural Missouri, I used to be excited to stay in China, the place my East Asian-looking face would enable me to be part of the bulk, for 2 years. Being in Beijing has been a breath of contemporary air— nobody takes a second look at me or treats me in another way because of my look— it is just once I converse 中文 that folks query whether or not I’m truly Chinese language, and even then, they nonetheless welcome me to their shops and eating places with heat and hospitality.


People standing in an isle with food stalls lined in Shichahai and large red lanterns hanging from the ceiling

Dozens of meals stalls in 什刹海 (Shichahai), a ravishing scenic space with three lakes and lots of locations to purchase meals and hearken to music


In distinction, it’s been a bit isolating being one of many solely Asian Individuals within the CET Beijing program. Lots of the white college students bond over shared experiences and struggles like being stared at, getting their photos taken on the road, and having strangers add their WeChat.

On the one hand, I really feel obligated to defend my classmates from all of this undesirable consideration and to apologize on behalf of the Chinese language strangers. On the opposite, I’ve been urging my classmates to consider the experiences of many immigrants within the U.S. and the way way more racism, discrimination, and exclusion they face for for much longer intervals of time.

Possibly it’s unfair to match these two teams of individuals and sorts of experiences, however dwelling within the CET bubble has made me take into consideration my dad and mom’ immigration to rural Missouri, the place many individuals had by no means seen an Asian individual earlier than, and the racism I ceaselessly confronted.


People walking on the Great Wall of China on a partly cloudy day

The Nice Wall of China: CET took us on a visit right here


As well as, I anticipated to be free from the affect of white privilege in China, however it does exist right here. For instance, primarily based on my expertise, magnificence requirements are aligned with the facial options of white girls.

As a result of I’ve not been to China in 12 years, I’m navigating many of those ideas for the primary time. I shall be right here for the following two years, although, and may have loads of time to find out my positionality on this nation and the methods completely different folks in China will understand me and others primarily based on our completely different identities.


A view from a rooftop in the Dongcheng area of Beijing of buildings, a tree to the left, and partly cloudy sky

A phenomenal view from a rooftop within the 東城區 (Dongcheng space) of Beijing


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