Saturday, September 19, 2009

Foreigner Hate

Considering I've been in Taiwan almost exactly a full year, I haven't met that many other waiguoren. But based on the small group of Canadians/Americans/South Africans/Australians I do know - I think we get an undeserved bad rap.

"Oh Leslie, we're so lucky to have you. You're not like other foreigners - they just drink, party, aren't reliable." It's a backhanded compliment: I'm good because I'm not like the other white folks. I used to repeat the common wisdom in passing, "yeah, a lot of people are just here to drink, make a little bit of money," until I realized I had no substantiating evidence. So I stopped.

The truth is white people like to drink more than locals. The truth is we tend to be louder and more obnoxious whether or not we're drinking. And the truth is there are some unreliable fly-by-night characters here, just like everywhere else. But it doesn't match the hype.

And it's a convenient stereotype to believe in if you're a school owner who wants to not feel bad about treating a foreign employee like crap. James and I love Taiwan, but we've both dealt with some pretty crummy work situations.

Unfortunately, I think we foreigners perpetuate our nasty reputation: The foreigners I know are all responsible and gainfully employed. But they all, have at one time or other, mentioned/agreed with the idea that we're all just here to "drink and party" and do bad work.

James has a friend who has been in Taiwan almost a decade. His theory is foreigners like to hate on other foreigners because everyone wants to feel like the "real" expat. - Everybody else is just visiting. Ppptttbbbb.

We're almost out of here. I'm really going to miss Taiwan. I wont miss the racial stereotype.

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