…The Musings of a Strange Guy


People think I joke when I say that I celebrate the Chinese New Year or any of our national festivals. They are national holidays and while I don’t necessarily go about celebrating them, there is in me that silent acknowledgement that this day is special, not only for one category of people within my society, but for the whole nation. I wish others felt that way too. I am growing very tired of having to fend off questions about my ethnicity/religion. I am a teacher, that’s all there is to know. I live some aspects of my religion (if that’s what it is) very deeply, but that’s my private set of beliefs, which I do not impose on anyone. I do not wish to be defined by others, because they seek to define what I am to reduce me, to categorise me, to contain me – as if, by knowing what religion and culture I adhere to, everything about me is explained. I know what I am, and to some extent, what I’m trying to be. I do not wish my ethnic background, or my religion or even skin colour to be taken into account when students and even parents judge my teaching. I would have wished that this were not the case, but it does happen. And it’s so sad.

P.S: To every (silly) question about my ethnicity, I reply that I’m Chinese. To those who actually protest that I don’t look Chinese (duh! – and so many of them do protest, at that…), I just tell them to stop judging me on the basis of my appearance and tell them not to generalise: If I say I’m Chinese, I’m gonna have my way and be Chinese, and they have to accept that, since they so much wanted to know. They usually have nothing to say after that.


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