Despite the fact that I spent a good deal of time growing up in Asia, I still had some preconceived notions about China before moving here。 I would like to blame Chinatowns, Mulan and the media for my terrible stereotypes。 In reality I can only blame myself for not having bothered to learn before now。 After a year of living in good, ol’ Beijing, I thought I would share with you my now debunked stereotypes。


  1。 Chinese people are only good at math and science


  I am almost 100 percent sure that every movie/TV show ever made has had a nerd played by an Asian kid。 I’m also fairly certain that every foreign exchange student from Asia who went to my high school was a genius。 Everyone just knows Chinese kids are good at math and science。 I am aware that we are also taught that Chinese education does not allow for free thought and creative thinking。


  After working in the education system of Beijing for the past year, I can tell you it is not that black and white。 I have so many students who love art, theater and music。 One in particular, is always sketching and I love it。 I have students who hate math and science。 They and I bemoan their terrible math homework together。 Please don’t assume that just because they are Chinese they are all forced to be alike。 They are individuals。


  2。 Chinese restaurants cook cats and dogs


  I used to joke with my friends that when cats in our neighborhood started disappearing it meant the Chinese restaurant had fresh meat。 I know, I’m a terrible person。 I’m turning a new leaf though。 Chinese food is amazing。 I don’t care if it’s Americanized or the real deal – it’s just plain good。 And, for the record, I have personally never had cat or dog in China。


  3。 Chinese people look exactly the same


  I recognize that, in the United States, people look incredibly different from one another。 We have different hair color, different eye color, different body types and different facial structure。 When we look at someone of Asian ethnicity we might immediately think, “Wow! They all look so similar!”


  What I have learned, though, is that we, foreigners, are looking for the wrong differences。 Chinese people see different eye shapes, different hair styles and different shades of skin and hair color。 It isn’t that they look the same, it’s that you simply aren’t looking for the ways in which they differ。


  4。 Chinese women are subordinate to men


  Ancient China often overshadows modern China in the world’s eyes。 We see a traditional culture seemingly trapped in a bygone era。 We remember stories of women binding their feet, arranged marriages and male-dominated homes。


  I have learned that China is ever evolving。 Beijing is filled with men and women alike rushing to the subways to get to work。 It is possible that in the countryside women are still expected to be quiet and demur。 But this is far from true in bustling cities like Beijing。 Chinese women have entered the workforce with incredible competence and are continuing to take on many more important roles in society。


  5。 Chinese people aren’t allowed to be Christians。


  Christianity is a legal religion within China。 The Communist Party, which remains an atheist organization, presently allows five religions in China: Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Protestantism, and Catholicism。 The idea that Chinese people are not allowed to be Christians is simply false。


  6。 Chinese people can’t drive


  When I visited China at 11 years of age, there was barely a car on the road。 They were filled with hundreds, if not thousands, of bicycles。 Some 12 years later, the streets of Beijing have definitely changed。 My husband, Leif, and I are some of the few bikers left on the road。








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