My friends asked me if I still hang out with Chinese much here since they saw me always interacting with Americans. Maybe this is a good time to answer this, for Americans and for my fellow oversea Chinese.
The short answer is I don’t. The short reason is because I want to understand Americans more and I don’t have much time. A slightly longer reason is because I want to have the same kind of happiness I had when I was in China, highly interacting with the culture and contributing to it. Society is like a huge novel. It is a lot of fun to know the threads of the society, watch the threads developing, watch the culture growing, get the nutrition from it, and contribute back.
I try not to spend too much time with my fellow Chinese (of course, I feel bad doing that). Other than keeping contact with my parents and my brothers, right now I speak almost no Chinese for weeks or months. My English is not very good to fend off my mother tongue. My mother tongue always interferes with my English. If I speak Chinese too much over the weekend with my family or my Chinese friends, my English will just be horrible for the next week. I guess after my English gets much better, it should be ok for me to speak both languages without them interfering with each other (possibly highly benefiting each other, in term of expression power. It is always like this when you try to learn many different things. At the beginning, they interfere with each other and fight for your attention and time. But as you reach a high level, they don’t actually conflict with each other. Instead, they benefit each other. This is the same experience I had when learning liberal arts, business, and computer science.) Furthermore, any time I spend with my fellow Chinese cut off my time that I can use to learn of American culture.
But I do love my fellow Chinese. I had my greatest fun when I was in China. Unlike those congressmen who appear to love Chinese by accusing Chinese government’s human right violation, I love Chinese because I know their aspiration, struggle, laughter, and sadness on a personal and daily basis through many of my friends. I know the threads developing there. I know the fights there generation after generation. I enjoy getting the nutrition and great inspiration from the culture and contributing back. It is a lot of fun.
I cannot have that kind of fun here in the states if I don’t integrate myself into the history here. Most of the oversea Chinese stay with Chinese community, thus very isolated from what is actually going on in this country. Staying with Chinese community can alleviate the immediate suffering a little since there is a certain degree of human contact, interaction or communication there. But it is not the solution, and it cannot achieve the great fun one can have in his/her mother culture, which actually completes a person as a human being. You can read my blog Register Yourself with a Space (https://freestone.wordpress.com/2007/05/02/register-yourself-with-a-space-and-about-patriotism/) about that.
Of course, doing all these is very tough, especially when you are in the transitional time. You haven’t got integrated into American culture yet. And you already lost contact with your native culture. And years of non-interaction, no real communication other than speaking of lab works. You can imagine putting yourself in a cave and live by yourself for a few years. It is just like that. The title of this blog site says it all: free stone. You can certainly try experiencing that by living in China for many years, which I think will greatly benefit the Chinese people.
It is after all a personal choice. I choose my path only based on what I have experienced in China and what I envision as possible results, and my fundamental belief which came from my life experience in China. Shortly, I am just fighting hard for the happiness that I think I am able to achieve, and I am willing to take any pain in that process. How you want to live your oversea life will have to depend on how you perceive as your happiness and how much pain you are willing to take to pursue that happiness.