A Personal Essay About an Immigrant's Cultural Identity

“She sounds Chinese.” A classmate whispered after I introduced myself in my first English class in the U.S., ten days after I immigrated to the country at the age of sixteen. Busy focusing on the teacher, I did not react to his comments, which unexpectedly stuck with me for the past eight years. As a Chinese teenager who just set foot on a new soil, I found everything, from the way my peers talk to how they dress, foreign. In order to fit in and avoid curious eyes, I hid my Chinese traits and tried to act like my American peers.

When I visited my childhood friends in Beijing one summer during my undergraduate years, the comforting sense of familiarity faded as they began to share the frustration that their parents were setting up dates for them and urging them to marry soon after graduation. I shrugged my shoulders and said to these 21-year-olds: “C’mon, it can’t be.

We are not in the 20th century.” My friends laughed and said to me in disbelief: “This is the reality.

Why do you sound like an American?” I was stunned. I was never called “an American,” let alone by friends whom I thought we have so much in common. After a successful interview at a start-up, which helps German brands to launch in the Chinese e-commence platforms, during my study abroad semester in Berlin, my German boss told me that the company never interviewed an applicant like me and that under my Chinese appearance and etiquette, American values were expressed and revealed and that I possessed perspectives drawn from experience gained from both worlds.

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He promised that I will have the opportunity to learn German and the German work ethic and qualities. He even joked that he did not know if he should consider me a Chinese or an American. This is when I realized that I do not have to fall into either one of the categories. I am someone who was shaped by a Chinese upbringing, influenced by German qualities, and embraces American values. Over the years, my Chinese accent faded and is barely noticeable. However, my voice is stronger and more well-rounded, I have found my own accent.

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A Personal Essay About an Immigrant's Cultural Identity. (2022, Sep 28). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/a-personal-essay-about-an-immigrant-s-cultural-identity/

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