Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Discrimination or over-sensitivity?

I have recently enrolled in a night class. In the class are two Chinese (which includes myself) and 12 Aussies of various non-Asian extracts. On the first day of class, I found myself paired up with the other Chinese when it comes to discussions. The others seem to quickly "gelled" with one another before I had the chance to make a move. I felt a sense of isolation, but I told myself I was matured enough to be able to take this. I thought that I have finally come face-to-face with the sort of racial prejudice that many foreign students must be feeling as a minority group in an Australian class.

Fortunately, by the end of the first class, we all seemed to be spontaneously opening up to one another. Not as quickly as Aussie-to-Aussie, but certainly a lot more conversations flowed. By seizing a chance to team up with an Aussie for an assignment, the ice thawed further. By the third day of class, I no longer felt that I was a minority and I started seeing the other students as fellow students, without any feeling of racial prejudice. I felt that they too see me as a fellow student and they now talk with me as they talk with the others.

Looking back, I think I had been oversensitive on that first day of class. I can see that if I were one of the Aussies, I would have done the same; i.e. not as ready to talk to someone of a different race until I felt at ease to do so. I am glad I made the extra effort to break the ice. I'm sure it helped. What I experienced on the first day of class had nothing to do with racial prejudice. We are just human - all of us.

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