Comment 1

The #1 question I get asked

“What’s your nationality?”

At least once a day, someone asks me this question.

Answer: Canadian

Sub-answer: Chinese and French

Of course I never get annoyed at answering, I’m proud to say who I am and where I’ve come from. Usually people respond with, “oh really? That’s an unusual mix” or they oddly want to know which one of my parents is the Asian one. I never understood why they’d want to know this…

Another common question I get asked is, “what do you consider yourself mostly. French or Chinese?”

Canadian. That’s what I consider myself first and foremost.

Growing up, I was never confused or thought about which nationality I am “more” of. I was born in Canada, I’m Canadian. My dad’s side is from China and my mom’s side from New Brunswick. So, I am both Chinese and French. Not just one or the other. I remember this was a discussion in one of my English classes, the topic of “identity” and what you consider yourself if both of your parents are different nationalities. The topic got so in depth and complicated, I just rose my hand and explained that it’s not – you can be more than one “identity” (which was the debate). I explained my passport is Canadian, but why I have Asian eyes and naturally light coloured hair is because I am also Chinese and French.

Then some pompous student who always has to have an opinion on everything (if you’ve ever attended a University lecture, you know who these people are) asked, “So you’re Chinese?”

Me: “Yes.”

Pompous student: “And you’re French?”

Me: “Yes.”

Pompous student: “But you’re not full Chinese or full French, so wouldn’t you get confused if someone divided a room and asked that French people go to one side and Chinese go on the other?”

Me: “I’d stay in the middle.”

I then gave the pompous student a weird look and thought to myself…why is he so confused? It’s people like him that make this whole topic of “identification” complicated in the first place.

I remember one time my friend asked where my family eats dinner. I said sometimes at the table, sometimes not – it’s half and half. Then she started laughing and said that WOULD be the case. She was doing a study on nationality and said all the white families she asked said they ALWAYS eat at the table, while all the Asian families she asked ALWAYS said they rarely do.

This is a picture of me on my 18th birthday (eee, I look young) with both my grandfather’s. Aren’t I just a good mix of both of ’em. 😉

I always find it funny when I meet people who are half Asian like myself. Without a doubt, one of us will say, “you’re half, aren’t you.” Then we’ll laugh and exchange stories on how many times people ask what your background is and then suddenly feel connected ’cause you can relate to each other on a level very few will ever understand.

1 Comment

  1. wordschat says

    Interesting piece. I liked it. Here in Canada we tend to identify by linguistic and not national identity. The former is just a medium to the latter. Nice to find someone else that identifes as Canadian first and by heritage upbringing second.

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