On our way home from her weekly mandarin lesson my eight year old asked me, if we can’t speak Chinese, are we still Chinese.
I told her that’s a great question. What does she think makes us who we are. Is it the language? But we speak English best but that doesn’t make us English.
Or is it how we look, so she looks Chinese therefore she is Chinese.
She said, no it’s from the inside. Then I asked her if how people see us affects how we see ourselves.
I told her about American couples who adopt children from Asian countries like China and Vietnam. Does she think an adopted child from China is not Chinese because they don’t speak Chinese and didn’t grow up immersed in Chinese culture?
Then she asked me why are there so many orphans in China. And I told her there are very many people in China. To which she quickly replied, 1.3 billion!
I’m delighted I can ponder with my daughter.
She has always been very interested in her Chinese-ness.
I think she only realised a year or two ago that people look according to their ethnicity. Before she came to that realisation, I think she thought we just look like a mix of our parents. And that we don’t look that different from each other.
She once asked me what makes her look different from her white best friend. She really couldn’t see a recognisable difference.