How do you identify yourself as an ABC [Australian-born Chinese]? For me, I look like a Chinese person, but talk like an Aussie.
What happens when one of these two traits is taken away from you? This is a question I asked myself repeatedly after an incident in Hawaii.
My friend and I met a young Gold Coast couple at our hotel. After a short, friendly conversation, the male stated, “You speak really good English for a Chinese person”. Without hesitation, I instantly replied, “Oh, I was born and raised in Australia so English is my first language.” His response in return was what confused and frustrated me to no end.
“You don’t sound Australian.”
“Oh… really?” was all I could muster at the time.
With my Australian identity stripped away, all that was left was “Chinese” and a lingering question of, “Then what am I?” As an ABC, we’ve all had to face the challenge of balancing the Australian and Chinese halves of ourselves. For some of us, we identify more with one than the other. It’s a feeling that can make us feel proud at times, yet frustrated during others. When in a situation like that described above, it can also test us.
Through this post, I would like to pose a question to my fellow ABCs. If you were the respondent in my story, how would you have reacted?