Chinese Got My Tongue

I understood what she asked, and yet I could not respond. In my Chinese class, we were learning how to say someone or something looks alike. My professor called on me and asked who I think I look alike. At first I thought she meant who I looked like in my class. I am the only Asian female in the class besides the professor. In that situation, it was awkward if I said I looked like a male student in the class just because they were Asian. It would also have been awkward to say I looked like my professor. Perhaps in a different set up it would not have been as odd.

Eventually I understood what sort of response she wanted from me. What she meant was if I looked like my mom or dad. This made me even more hesitant. Should I say in front of the whole class that I am adopted? My parents are both Caucasian. Should I lie? It was hard enough that I had to speak in a different language. In the end, I sputtered out that I look like my mom and the class moved on. They probably thought I didn’t understand the question, but I did understand. I just didn’t know how to answer without lying.

It’s surprising to me how many times adoption can come up throughout daily life. Sometimes it can be painful because it makes me stand out so blatantly. Sometimes I am fine and can just shrug it off. Like anything, it depends on the environment, context, and mood I am in when the topic comes up. In class I was mostly dumbfounded about the question, but thinking about it later gives me a little heartache.

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2 thoughts on “Chinese Got My Tongue

  1. I’m Chinese American but not an adoptee, so I don’t have any insights to offer. I actually clicked on your post thinking it was on mispronouncing Chinese, which I have extensive experience on. 😀 But I found your post touching, and I look forward to reading more from you. Keep on writing – I have a friend who’s a Chinese American adoptee and she would love this blog.

    • Thank you so much for your comment. I am glad I was able to touch you in some way. In the future, I am hoping to write more about being Asian American, so perhaps you’ll be able to relate more then or provide a different experience than my own. All the best – Christina

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