What Is Missing in MacLean’s Article, “Too Asian?”

MacLean’s article titled “Too Asian” (http://www2.macleans.ca/2010/11/10/too-asian/) misses one important perspective. The reason that Asians and Whites seem to be “segregated” on the campuses of U of Toronto, U of Waterloo and U of British Columbia is not just that Asians don’t make effort to mingle with Whites as the article has implied. It is also that the Whites don’t make effort to mingle with Asians.

In my experience as a visa student from China studying in the U of T, I was clearly aware that my fellow Chinese students yearn to have Canadian (most of them were white at that time) friends. The motivation was not just to learn and practice English. It was more about fitting, in, being accepted and belonged to this new country that we were to settle and to call home. Yet few succeeded to have any. Our fellow white Canadian students, most of them, were comfortable mingle among their own or with international students whose native language was English or whose native culture was Western.

Yet, being human, we needed social interaction. So we formed our Chinese students social circles. Some professors blamed us for making no effort to interact with others.

I remember that for a period of time, I tried to cut off my interaction with my fellow Chinese students, so that I could let the urge to socialize build up inside me tremendously. Then I would be able to “shamelessly” to accost any “Canadian” student for a conversation, however brief and awkward it could be. Once I cooked a tofu dish and saved it in the refrigerator for my next-door white Canadian student in my residence to try. He bumped into me in the hallway one day and thanked me. We exchanged 3-5 sentences. Then he was gone. Through such effort I finally made friends with a few open-minded and understanding Canadian students.

Segregation is mutual. When the Whites didn’t allow the Blacks to sit beside them, the blacks naturally were unwilling to strike a conversation with Whites in other situations and for years and years even after they were allowed to sit beside the Whites.

The way I made friends with my white Canadian friends at U of T, was damaging to my emotional health and my self-esteem, as I had initially approached them as someone who was needy, not an equal, even though they might have not been aware of this. I would not do this again.

There is nothing wrong to socialize with my fellow Chinese whom I now regard as equal human being, not less desirable than white Canadians.

Everyone is equal, regardless of their ability in language, their position in social hierarchy, or their knowledge or wisdom. When you are friendly to them, they are friendly to you.

I am sure many pet owners know this really well.

This entry was posted on Thursday, December 16th, 2010 at 9:53 pm and is filed under Canadian, Chinese, Just Being Me. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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