Sunday, June 8, 2008

Chinese Culture

One of the few HD cable channels I get is HD Theater and they have a series on festivals of the world. Right now, they're showing the mid-autumn festival in Hong Kong. In addition to talking about the festival and moon cakes, they also introduce elements of Chinese culture. The narrator will say "The Chinese believe..." or "The Chinese do this because..." but I found that much of it was foreign to me. Maybe because I grew up in North America and most of the stuff has to do with superstition and how to ward evil spirits.

I get this feeling when I'm in China too. Even though I speak and understand Chinese (mostly), I'm still pretty Americanized when it comes to culture and world view. I think it would be easier if I looked like a laowai since expectations would be much lower. Instead, because I look like everyone else, local people think I'm retarded or something when I can't understand what they say or do something culturally different. This is especially worse in Chengdu since most locals will speak in Sichuanese to me first. Maybe I need a t-shirt that with 老外 (foreigner) or 美国人 (American) printed on it.

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