Saturday 16th December 2017,

Campus

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How Studying in China Opened Issues of Identity for an Asian American Student

posted by Randall
Jasmine Woo with other study abroad students in Beijing

Jasmine Woo with other study abroad students in Beijing

By Jasmine Woo

Walking along a scenic route by the ocean in Laoshan, China, a man in Mandarin asks me “Are
you a Huárén?” Huárén describes someone who is of Chinese descent living outside of China.
This past summer, I participated in a three week college sponsored faculty-led
study abroad course called Change and Continuity in China. This study abroad course gave me a chance to
travel abroad and to visit China for the first time. I traveled with a of group of mostly White male
students except for one female, African American student.

Jasmine Woo with host family

Jasmine Woo with host family

As a result of my experience of studying abroad, I began questioning and wondering about my identity as an Asian American, as a Chinese American. Initially arriving to China, I was very aware of myself within my group, especially being seen as an American or maybe being seen as a local Chinese. Throughout the trip, I constantly thought of myself as being very American.

As a result of my experience of studying abroad, I began questioning and wondering about my identity as an Asian American, as a Chinese American. Initially arriving to China, I was very aware of myself within my group, especially being seen as an American or maybe being seen as a local Chinese. Throughout the trip, I constantly thought of myself as being very American.

At the university, we were visiting, there were many stares by students as I
walked around campus with the “foreign” group of students. I was one of only two female
identified students on the trip so I was always walking with the African American female student.

As the two of us walked together, I think they probably saw us as an odd combination.

Jasmine Woo with children of host family

Jasmine Woo with children of host family

Towards the end of the trip, I thought of myself as being culturally American, but ethnically Chinese. However, I was confused by this notion because I also thought of myself growing up with Chinese parents and their knowledge and cultural practices have imparted upon me.

Identity is a place of confusion and is very dependent upon on the context in which we are in. I still see myself as holding these dual identities, sometimes I identify more with my Chinese
heritage, but sometimes I can connect more with being from the United States.

I am an undergraduate student at a small liberal arts college in Western North Carolina. As a result of my study abroad experience I decided to focus my senior thesis around Asian American students experiences of studying abroad in Asia, especially focusing on students who study abroad in their heritage country.

This research is a year long process and I am looking for students who might be interested in learning more about my research and potentially being a participant. Please contact me if you are interested.

(Note from the editor: Jasmine Woo attends Warren Wilson College and may be reached at jwoo.f12 at warren-wilson dot edu)

 

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4 Comments

  1. Anita Tam says:

    RE: How studying in China opened up issues of identity for Asian American students: Hi Jasmine. I don’t know if you will see this comment, but this is amazing!How did you find out about asamnews? I hope this piece will reach out to more people and get your thesis rolling.

    -Anita Tam

  2. Bill says:

    RE: How Studying in China Opened Issues of Identity for an Asian American Student: Couldn’t email Jasmine. Tried the email provided by the editor, didn’t work.

    1. AsAmNews says:

      Please try again. The email is good. Of course, you'll need to replace at with @ and "dot" with .

    2. Jasmine Woo says:

      RE: How studying in China opened up issues of identity for an Asian American student: My school was switching over their email system, so it should be up and running now!

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