How Traveling to China Changed My Outlook On Life by TheGrandAdmiral
You can view my original blog here
I have always been drawn to East Asia, ever since I was a child. I cannot say exactly what it is that causes me to be intrigued by this geographical region, but the intrigue is there.
My first voyage to Asia (see what I just did there?) was a trip to Japan in 2006, shortly graduating from high school. It was my first time traveling alone and my first time traveling abroad. This experience increased my sense of independence, as well as my sense of adventure. I wanted more. After taking two more trips to the country and attaining my bachelor’s degree, I decided that I wanted to try teaching English in Japan. For better or for worse, I did not get a job there after years of applications.
Now, given my nature and my interest in East Asia, I had done a lot of research on the place (places rather; East Asia is not one big country, just like there is no “Westland” or 外国), so I was not surprised at all. This was due to all of the anti-Black racism that I had read about in regards to Asia, and that which I did experience during my time in Japan. Constantly reading about this destroyed my confidence, and put my in a rut where I felt like I had nothing to live for aside from working and paying taxes; no offense to the ancestors, but this felt like a form of modern-day slavery.
A person with nothing to look forward to and no aspirations simply exists, that’s not living. That was my reality, until a QQ friend of mine suggested for me to apply for jobs in China.
Of course, I was skeptical. If Japan, the supposed “best place in East Asia for a Black man” (when it comes to dating, that might actually be true though) would not hire me, there is no way that China, a country where a large percentage of classified ads state “Caucasians only” would hire me, and if they did, I would have a horrendous time of it all. No, I would just continue to work in the States, save my money, and take trips to Japan to get my fix of East Asia.
I reluctantly applied for a few English teaching jobs online using one of the many websites available for applying for jobs in China. A few days later, I was offered an interview. I did not get the job; of course I wouldn’t, I’m Black! However, I was offered another interview with another company. I didn’t have anything left to do after the fight, but didn’t want to go to bed, so I took the interview. A few weeks later, I was told that I got the job, and that I would be starting work during the summer.
Fast forward a few months and I am on a flight to Guangzhou, China (GZ). I wanted to travel around before settling in my work city. For starters, my outlook still remained very negative, especially given the stares that I was getting and all of the information that I had digested. However, I ended up meeting quite a few nice people, including one very kind hotel manager that took me out to eat just about every night that I stayed at her hotel. After getting my travel fix, touring around GZ and traveling to Changsha, it was time to report to Xi’an where I held a temporary job as an English teacher.
Living in Xi’an I received even more stares, but my students were very well-behaved and even supportive of me, going the extra mile to help me become comfortable in their country, despite the fact that I was supposed to be the one teaching them! All of the classroom horror stories that other Black teachers posted on forums and blogs that had instilled fear in me were not my experience at all (that is not to discount the experiences of others, however). The racism that I had read about surely does exist, but on the other hand, there were a lot of wonderful people that changed my outlook on life and on China.
I am back in the States now, but I plan on returning to China next year. If I find another job there, I might go in for the long haul, or at least a year or two. I am a lot more confident in myself, and my ability to mingle with others in foreign lands. In the meantime, I am going to be focused on personal development to be better prepared to grab all of the opportunities that life has to offer, and perhaps create them where life does not offer them, regardless of my location. I advise you, dear readers, to do the same.
One of the many life lessons that I learned on this adventure is to forge your own path. To put it in the words of DMX, “F*ck what you heard, it’s what you’re hearing.” On that note, that whole thing about not giving umbrellas as gifts did not apply to me. I was given an umbrella as a present, and that same night had a very successful date with the young lady that gave it to me.