Minorities in China

Living in Florida for all of my life, I am used to being surrounded by different cultures, especially Latin culture. It’s something I love most about living in America; however, when I came to China, I noticed the seemingly homogeneous landscape. This led me to question how it must feel being a minority in China.

On my way to my favorite “baozi” restaurant, I passed a Hispanic woman. I stopped her and asked her several questions on what it must feel like being a minority in China. She told me she had been living in Beijing for six months because of her job. Originally from Colombia, she desperately missed hispanic food, particularly arepas, a very popular dough-like food. She said while Chinese landscape seems the same everywhere, it isn’t. Each city has its own characteristics and typical foods. For example, people from Sichuan like spicy food.

After the usual introductory small talk, she started to open up about how it felt to be a minority in China. She felt very lonely a majority of the time, because she still hasn’t found anyone from her hometown to identify with. Most of the foreigners in Beijing are American or Australian, according to her. After her first couple weeks in Beijing, she got sick of Chinese food, so she started cooking some traditional Colombian foods in her kitchen, but the ingredients in China are very different compared to Colombia. While they might both be “beef”, what the cows eat, how often they are allowed to exercise, their environment, etc are all different. This impacts the taste.

While there are a lot of disadvantages, there are also a lot of benefits. She gets a lot of attention. For example, last weekend, she was walking to Element Fresh, a very popular American-style restaurant, in Sanlitun when she was stopped by two businesswomen looking for a model to take pictures wearing their company’s sunglasses. She made $200! Perks of being a 外国人!

In summary, she says being a Colombian woman in Beijing is incredibly lonely, but rewarding.