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  • I take off my shoes as soon as I step inside my house. Every Sunday night, Mom makes stir-fry for dinner. Our cabinets are stuffed to the brim with green tea, and I constantly have to prevent my mother from buying more. I take Mandarin, which consists of taking a shuttle between my school and the academy that offers the class every morning. I can't remember ever not being able to use chopsticks as easily as I use a fork or a spoon. Mom swears in Chinese when she stubs her toe. This past summer, while visiting my cousins in Hong Kong, I saw the high school my mother attended when she was my age.

    Thing is, I don't have a drop of Chinese blood in me. I'm a Chinese-American who is 0% Chinese. My mother and all of her sisters grew up in Asia due to their father's government job. While they lived in an international community for most of their time overseas, my mom still picked up a lot of the local customs and language, and passed it on to me.

    At school, the majority of kids make most of their good friends within their ethnic background, Korean kids sticking with other Koreans, etc. I slide easily between cultural groups. Sometimes I'll overhear some of my friends joking in Chinese and I'll laugh at what they're saying, and they look absolutely shocked at the fact a white girl can understand them. I think of myself as the equivalent of a wasian (that's someone who's half-white and half-Asian, also known as a halfsie), although usually wasians at least slightly look their part.

    While this has never been something that has caused me pain, it can cause confusion among my peers, as well as within myself. I feel as though I belong within Chinese culture due to how I was raised, but sometimes when I'm the only white person in a group of my Asian friends I stick out like a sore thumb. I didn't grow up speaking Mandarin like most of my friends did and thus cannot speak as fluently as they do, but I still love the culture and think of it as my own. I've also overheard my white classmates making rude comments when they see my doing my Chinese homework, since I'm one of the few non-Chinese kids in my school who takes that class. Occasionally I feel like I'm trying to force myself into that culture, even though that's just how I was raised. But at the end of the day when I walk into the house, take off my shoes, and smell the stir-fry, I can't help but feel grateful for the heritage I was given.
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