“Ni hao” *continues to speak in Chinese*
“I’m sorry, I don’t understand. I speak English. American.”
*confused—pulls out a translating app*
“Are you their tour guide?”
This is an example of what it has been like for me as a Korean American in rural China. Interactions like that would happen at airports, in town, at the gym, and pretty much any public area. I thought it was hilarious every time it occurred; but, it also made me feel odd. In a way, I felt like I was able to connect more with the locals because we both had “Asian features” and shared similar customs, having been raised in a Korean household.
“…there is something that ties us all together. Despite being student athletes, we are all determined to accomplish whatever goals we set out for ourselves. We all share a sense of altruism and motivation to help.”
However, I also felt that this somewhat set me apart from the other ACE athletes. But, I’m not the only one who has felt particularly distinct. Since we all have different backgrounds, every one of us has had a unique experience so far. While someone may have been to China before, or may have had more exposure to the language, another person may have been blindsighted by the utter beauty of Zhongdian.
My unique experience is that I am a Korean American. I share the values of family and respect, and am more familiar with some of the foods. For instance, it’s normal for me to have rice for every meal of the day, and have hot tea all the time. But, there is something that ties us all together. Despite being student athletes, we are all determined to accomplish whatever goals we set out for ourselves. We all share a sense of altruism and motivation to help.