It's not prejudice... It's culture!

Trip Start Sep 14, 2009
Trip End Aug 31, 2011

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Where I stayed
the cool room

Flag of China  , Heilongjiang,
Monday, June 28, 2010

So I'm well underway in prepping my return to the states. I've sold off just about everything I wanted to sell and I have a pretty good idea on how I'm going to be moving my stuff around. Let's hope that my plan works as I intend.

And another note on the silly shenanigans about how people are not helpful. I needed to get some government paperwork filed. I thought I had everything I needed, but turns out I needed a copy of my passport as well. I always keep a copy of my passport in my wallet, so I gave them that, but since the paper was well worn they weren't happy with it and wanted me to get a new copy. I asked them where there was a copy shop nearby. They told me, "There's nothing nearby at all whatsoever to make a copy." Suddenly the friend of a friend who just happened to be there overheard what was going on and said, "follow me. There's a place nearby." He takes me out the door and points to a place 25 feet away that has a big sign that says "COPIES." So every day this woman passes this sign to go into work, and is place that requires copies on a daily basis, yet she did not no of anyplace at all to make a copy. Go team. As always in China, the only people you can rely on (and even this isn't always true) are your friends.

I ended up giving my tutoring work, my apartment, my computer, and hopefully the job I worked to one guy. He's a really nice man, but he's black and has dredlocks down to his lower back; two major strikes against him in Qiqihaer. He said he had already gone to my school before and they turned him away. Most likely because he was black. If he was white I'm sure he would have been given the time of day. I prepped his arrival with the school owner so the guy was looking forward to meeting my friend. When he came he instantly recognized him (kind of hard not to), but then the situation actually started to go a little more positive. Since I gave him my good recommendation and the school and I already have good guanxi they actually began to discuss a few more specifics. The guy that owns the school is good at bullshitting, so I can't tell for certain until my friend gets a job there, but it sounds like it was quite positive and he'll be there.

Until Sunday I hadn't told any Chinese person that I was leaving for good. We'll, not entirely true. I told my college that I needed to go home and that I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to come back or not. Either way, the only people I wasn't lying to were the other foreigners. Either way, I decided to tell my host family the truth. They were the only friends of mine that I've ever had that I didn't have a business relationship with.

The conversation actually went a little better than I had planned. We quickly moved onto why I wanted out of Qiqihaer and of course the conversation drifted over to the prejudice and racism in the city. The mother, an old fashioned conservative Chinese woman, reiterated what she had been taught growing up. It's not prejudice. There is none of that here. There are few, if any, bad people and any examples that I might have are just outliers. Nevermind that my examples happen every time I step outside my door. Finally as the conversation worked it's course she finally said, "No, it's not prejudice. It's just our cultural impression of other people."

Now, I rarely ever do this, and I told her that as well, but I told her that this cultural part was wrong. I told her in brief about how the US was (and still is) going through this cultural prejudice as well, but the instant something like that happens, whatever the foundation, it is a prejudice and is wrong. The answer she gave was very chinese. "Well, maybe with more time we can solve the issue." As another foreigner here constantly says, "What 5000 years isn't long enough?" I reminded her that time wouldn't change anything. The only reason why the US has progressed at all with our prejudices is because of hard work. Only with hard work can things change over time. The daughter looked at me, smiled and agreed.
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Jan Berg on

Way to go, Baitian Ming!
Love, Mom

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