Somehow, I stand out like a sore thumb in Taiwan. Even before exposing my American-accented Mandarin, people immediately notice my mere existence.
For those of you who know me, I don’t literally stick out, because I’m rather vertically challenged. However, I’ll be waiting for a bus, sitting a coffeeshop, breathing, and approached by complete strangers. Often the first questions asked are: “Are you mixed-race?” or “Where are you from?”
Now, I tell this my friends back home and they laugh, because they think I look 100% Asian, as I am. So I never quite understood. I also didn’t understand how it was strange for me compliment a stranger, but it’s okay to open with questions on ancestry and heritage.
I guess in a way, it makes sense. They’re asking me to start telling my story from even before the beginning.
I don’t even know my own prologue, but I am full-blooded Taiwanese. (Although I have never met my biological father, I’ve confirmed he is Taiwanese via Google.)
I’ve talked about this with friends and they pointed out I even stood out back home. I grew up in Long Island and Central Jersey, then moved out into a Catholic, private university. I grew up hearing “Where are you really from?”
Which was fine, because I really am from Taiwan, when the other answers above don’t appease them.
Here, once I explain that I grew up in America, it all seems to makes sense to the inquirer. I just hope it’s all the good stereotypes that ring true.