Issue Five: Citizen

Asians Between Cultures

Throughout my life I have never quite felt at home in either the western or eastern culture. I was always at a crossroads between the two. My parents would always keep up with Chinese tradition yet we also took on many South African cultural traits too. I have also had my fair share of verbal abuse from other Asians as I was not able to speak Chinese fluently and was also verbally abused by other non- asian South Africans, as the Chinese in South Africa have had a stigma attached to them that we “jumped on the bandwagon” when things changed from Apartheid rule to the new Democratic South Africa, specifically when Affirmative Action or “B.B.B.E.E.”- Black Economic Empowerment was passed into law.

This is due to a misconception that the Chinese were treated as “honorary whites” during Apartheid years, which is completely wrong as it was the Japanese who were given that status. The Chinese were classified as “coloureds” and treated as such.

In saying all of this, I have chosen to use the various abuses encountered as a tool for educating the future generations all over the world. I am an international teacher by profession and since I am able to now relate to both eastern and western cultures, I have used this to my advantage and brought light to various misunderstanding or misconceptions between the two cultures or at least have attempted to. I guess you could say that as a teacher “I am the best of both worlds”, and the more I experience the more I grow into my true identity which is simply just “A citizen of the world”.