Who Are We?
Updated: Jan 11
By: Chu Ying Lam
Who am I? I would address myself as a world citizen who is based in Hong Kong, and of course at the same time, a Hong Konger or an Asian too. Two years ago, when I first stepped on the American soil as an exchange student starting a life-changing sojourn, it was the time I started developing such an “abnormal” mindset.
The multi-ethnic diversity of the United States is the main reason why I choose it as my exchange destination and certainly, it didn’t let me down at all. As a very typical Asian, shy and afraid to speak in English, I’m actually not very used to the “overly-welcoming” culture of the Americans at first, especially the never-ending “hey how are you doing” part. But slowly when I started trying to step out from my comfort zone, I discovered the reason why people with different races and religious background “naturally” divide themselves from one another, not because of potential communication problem (at the end no one really cares about how many grammatical mistakes you made during conversations), people just feel too comfortable staying within their own identity groups and being lazy to adjust their own habits to get along with people of different races, and of course, they fear being rejected by people different from them.
When I put aside all my fear, I started meeting people from the Middle East, India, Africa, Korea, Japan, Canada, Europe, and of course the locals in the United States. Grabbing a drink and chit-chatting with a Muslim wearing hijab on the dance floor, chatting and filming with Canadian couples in Peru during my South-American trip, joining the thanks-giving celebration of my roommies’ family and experiencing traditional American culture, doing solo couch-surfing and discussing global issues with my host family during our drive to the Antelope Canyon (he even offered me a free helicopter trip over the Grand Canyon), and so on. All these meaningful talks and communications make me realize that people, regardless of their race and religious background, are fundamentally the same, just with different cultures and religious beliefs that make us speak and live in different ways. We are all of the same race, the human race. Perhaps one day when all of us could let go of all our hostility and fear of stepping out to understand each other, world peace might not be a dream only.
Realizing how big this world is, shapes my perspective towards it. Not only urging me to work hard and travel more, but also increasing my awareness of things happening in our world. Everyone could have such an eye-opening experience, it won’t cost you much, just the courage to step out of your comfort zone, and you will discover how beautiful the diversity around the world is, regardless of all the pain and struggles we are having right now in 2020.