Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with two international students from China to talk to them about the importance of authenticity and culture in their lives. Maintaining their identity in a new environment is a struggle that many of these students face.
Genesis Qu, a senior at Central Catholic, comes from Nanjing, China. His big contribution to society is doing community service. It his how he “uses [his] talents to something good and present the best part of [his] culture.”
In school, Genesis loves math. “My interests are very spread-out. I love figuring out problems. Accomplishment really fuels me.” He also finds interest in art and music.
As a hobby, Genesis takes photography class and paints.
As an Asian in America, Genesis finds himself battling stereotypes and is often misperceived. He says that with set standards and expectations towards his race, good communication is blocked.
Genesis defines the concept of culture as an “active and distinct way of thinking that is shared by a group of people.” He appreciates Chinese culture and its history of art, calligraphy, and knowledge.
When it comes to American culture, Genesis thinks that it is not one but many different cultures together in unison. However, he states that what America lacks is “a platform where cultures can be appreciated without bias.”
Tim Zhang was born in Inner Mongolia, China, influenced both by Russian and Mongolian herder cultures. “I think culture is the food that you eat, and maybe your faith.” Tim’s faith strongly abides by the idea of Karma. At Central, Tim was blown away by the amount of Catholic studies that differ from his own religious views. He says, “It’s quite interesting that you can learn about the diversity of different cultures and religions in different countries, but I do think that America lacks its own culture.”
Moving from one home to another, Tim finds that his distinctive quality is having a better adaptability to different settings than others. His ability to be independent and self-reliant allows him to live without care.
However, racism and labeling do not get in the way of Tim’s day-to-day life. “I can’t say that everybody around me is nice and not racist, but I don’t really care about [racists] because I know that there are other people who really understand me.”