I was born and raised in Hong Kong. For the past six years, I’ve been living in the United States. I work as a salesgirl in a large department store. Right now I’m going through a difficult period of my life which is hard for me to talk about.
A few months ago I went to Hong Kong for a visit. It was the first time I’d gone back there since coming to the United States. I was eager to see my parents, my brothers, my sisters and my friends.
I really got a shock when I arrived. Hong Kong was not the same city as I left six years ago. Things had changed so much that I didn’t recognize parts of it. My primary school was gone. The houses on the street where I used to live had been torn down and replaced by office buildings.
The shock from the physical changes in the city, however, was nothing compares to the confusion and hurt I soon began to feel in my parents’ home. My family greeted warmly when I arrived. While my mother was busy preparing a special dinner in my honor, the rest of the family eagerly asked me questions about my life in the United States. I felt happy that day and for a couple of days after, but then I began to feel that something was wrong. I noticed that my family, especially my mother, would sometimes glance at me in a strange way when I was speaking. They gradually became less warm and friendly towards me, I became uncomfortable and confused as to why they were behaving that day.
I decided to talk to my mother．She asked me, “Have you forgotten your Chinese way?” I asked her what she meant．She asked, “You’ve forgotten the place of women in a Chinese home. You talk when you should remain silent. You speak on matters that of concern only to men．You speak openly of your inner feelings and desires. That’s not the way of a Chinese woman. We keep our thoughts and feelings to ourselves.
As my mother spoke, I realized what had happened to me. Americans, including American women feel as free as men to speak or give an opinion about any subject. They don’t take a silent back seat during a discussion. I guessed that through my association with Americans during the past six years, I had gradually adopted some of their ways.
During the next few days I tired to be a Chinese woman. But it didn’t work. My family remained distant from me. They could no longer accept me fully as one of them. I became more uncomfortable and hurt as things were said and done that made me fully feel that I was an outsider, a stranger in my own country.
I cut my visit short by three weeks and came back to the United States. But coming back here didn’t lessen the confusion and pain.In fact,I feel more confused then before.I now feel homeless. I don’t feel like an American. Americans haven’t accepted me. The women I work with at the store are polite enough, but they don’t try to get close to me or let me close to them. During the morning coffee break they make plans to have lunch together and go shopping, On Fridays they talk about the disco place they’re going to that night. They never include me in their plans. My accent, My name, and my oriental features mark me as a foreigner. I’ve felt for a long time that I was Chinese and that my home was Hong Kong. Now I no longer consider Hong Kong my home. And so I feel homeless. I’m caught between the old world where I no longer belong and the new world which has not yet accepted me.