Why won’t they accept me as a local?
It is amazing how often you hear this comment and how some people can be so offended by the fact that the local people won’t consider them to be Chinese, Thai, Brazilian, Mexican or whatever. Even if they do their best to acculturate, learn the language and get along well with everyone.
Ideally, don’t head to your new country with a goal of being accepted as a local. It probably isn’t going to happen.
Why? Because you aren’t Chinese, French, Cambodian or whatever. You are who you are, you are not them.
Many of our Western cultures have been heavily influenced by immigration, yet even we were very slow to accept “those foreigners” and we are all well aware of the negative nicknames applied to many of them.
Certainly, as best you can:
- Learn the local language
- Respect local customs and culture
- Do your best to fit in
But – bottom line – be who you are. Be a good representative of your home country and a good guest of the country in which you are living.
As good goals, we can modify two of the three primary goals United States Peace Corps to be:
- Help promote a better understanding of [ your nationality] on the part of the local people.
- Help promote a better understanding of the local people on the part of [your nationality].
I like #2 best because so few Westerners really understand the rest of the world. Not like you or I will really have an in-depth understanding in only a year or two, but we will at least have a better understanding than the one people “back home” get from TV and made-up fantastic stories on the Internet.
TED’s Tips™ #1: Bottom line? Be yourself and do a good job of representing your country and culture. And please help the people back home have a better understanding of what the rest of the world is really like.