2006.01.22: January 22, 2006: Headlines: COS - Lesotho: Blogs - Lesotho: Asian American Issues: Humor: Personal Web Site: Peace Corps Volunteer David Song writes: ignorance surfaces with an innocence that can only make you laugh not in condescension but for its situational comic value

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Lesotho: Peace Corps Lesotho : The Peace Corps in Lesotho: 2006.01.22: January 22, 2006: Headlines: COS - Lesotho: Blogs - Lesotho: Asian American Issues: Humor: Personal Web Site: Peace Corps Volunteer David Song writes: ignorance surfaces with an innocence that can only make you laugh not in condescension but for its situational comic value

By Admin1 (admin) (ppp-70-250-74-101.dsl.okcyok.swbell.net - 70.250.74.101) on Monday, December 04, 2006 - 9:36 am: Edit Post

Peace Corps Volunteer David Song writes: ignorance surfaces with an innocence that can only make you laugh not in condescension but for its situational comic value

Peace Corps Volunteer David Song writes: ignorance surfaces with an innocence that can only make you laugh not in condescension but for its situational comic value

So where are you from? said Sister Theresa, my principal. Well, my parents were born in Korea, but I have lived in American most of my life, I replied. So are you Chinese? Sister Theresa inquires, as the needle comes to a screeching halt in my brain.

Peace Corps Volunteer David Song writes: ignorance surfaces with an innocence that can only make you laugh not in condescension but for its situational comic value

Just Laugh

Ignorance isnt limited to countries that are less connected to the rest of world. In fact, Americans can be quite oblivious when it comes to anything too distant from their interests or, worse, even when it comes to other Americans. But ignorance is quite prevalent in Lesotho, a function of the general isolation it enjoys/suffers from however you want to look at it. While this lack of knowledge can be frustrating, Basotho ignorance surfaces with an innocence that can only make you laugh not in condescension but for its situational comic value.

Heres an oh so representative example. My principal and some teachers prepared a welcoming feast complete with Christmas decoration to extend the holiday spirit. It was such a sweet gesture, and we had such a great time getting to know each other. To get to the point, the following exchange was the showstopper for me:

So where are you from? said Sister Theresa, my principal.
Well, my parents were born in Korea, but I have lived in American most of my life, I replied.
So are you Chinese? Sister Theresa inquires, as the needle comes to a screeching halt in my brain.

The caveat is that there are few minorities represented in Lesotho, and of the ones that are here Pakistanis, Indians and Chinese make up the bulk. Compared to other non-Basotho, Ive seen quite a number of Chinese walking around town and running various shops. So in addition to the fact that the Basotho have little experience with foreigners in general, their knowledge of Asian-looking people has been limited to the Chinese.

In light of all this Ive realized that I have to choose my battles when it comes to asserting my identity. After struggling to explain what/where Korea is and the concept of being an Asian American after all, many of the folks Ive talked to are farmers with little education and even the educated get little geography after grammar school Ive been trying to stress the point that Im an American. And really, thats the most important thing right now. Maybe as I get to know people in my village more and more and can spend more time explaining things one-on-one, exploring the idea of a multi-ethnic country can be an opportunity for substantive cultural exchange. But for now, Im actually relieved to think of myself as simply an American, although Im pretty opposed to the idea of telling people Im Chinese not that theres anything wrong with that (sorry to end on a Seinfeld reference).




Links to Related Topics (Tags):

Headlines: January, 2006; Peace Corps Lesotho; Directory of Lesotho RPCVs; Messages and Announcements for Lesotho RPCVs; Blogs - Lesotho; Asian American Issues; Humor





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Story Source: Personal Web Site

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Lesotho; Blogs - Lesotho; Asian American Issues; Humor

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