Perceptions of China: The People

By Tim B.

While the everyday person on the street in China may not show a random stranger any more love than they would in the US, I was shocked to find out just how amicable the people can be. I originally thought that everywhere I went I would be the stereotypical fat American who eats too much and thinks the world revolves around him, what I found was quite the opposite. The people didn’t make any assumptions about me at all, in fact, they really wanted to get real information about my life. They treated with John Locke’s philosophy of Tabula Rasa, a blank slate, waiting to be filled with factual information about the US that they had not yet heard.

Stereotyping is one of the key reasons that Americans are not well received in many different places abroad. Not only because of foreigners’ perceptions of us, but because of our perceptions of them. This causes a disconnect that prevents the establishment of any sort of good natured relationships that the world really needs more of. For example, an American in France is not only shunned because he is the ugly foreigner but also because he is thinking that he doesn’t want to be around the smelly French people.

The Chinese people literally wanted to know everything about me, from how much I weigh to how old my father is and how many rooms my house has. The funny thing about it is that there were so many questions that I was unable to ask them almost anything. Regardless, whether it was my host family or the people we met today at the other university that we visited, they always wanted to know more and more, and to make friends, despite what I had believed before coming here.

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