I read option 2, which featured the book “Student Ambassadors: Patriots or Traitors?” Before I say anything else, I have to say that the story of a teenage boy studying very hard to be accepted into an American college made me think of The Good Earth series by Pearl S. Buck (who was featured in one of the optional readings for this week.)
In particular, this reading mentioned how poorly the Chinese students were treated (due to the atmosphere of racism surrounding the Chinese Exclusion Act) once they got to the United States. Also, that act was still in place when this book was written, thus resulting in only merchants and students being allowed to come from China. This also resulted, at least in the late twentieth century, in the racist idea that Asians are smarter than white people. This leads to higher academic and salary expectations of Asian-Americans and increased expectations of children in the Asian American community. At home, despite the fact that the Boxers had provided money for these students’ scholarships, they were considered to be traitors to the Boxer Chinese ideal of China for the Chinese. This was especially true because they were going to the United States, a Western nation, literally one of the ones who took over part of China, helping to contribute to the Boxer Rebellion. So, they were stuck between two worlds, with only their dreams and other people, like themselves, to guide them. It’s really much like the story of most immigrants.
The driving factors in narrating a story are the protagonist and antagonist, how each relates to the world around them, and how others relate to him/her. The time period and the physical location are critical to the setting. Similarly, the person’s race, ethnicity, country of origin, gender, age, personality, and physical, emotional, and mental behavior are critical to how the reader understands the protagonist. The same is true of any truly good antagonist.
One factor in anything academic is how much previous knowledge and experience one has had with the subject matter. In this case, last week’s readings allowed me to better understand the causes of the racism that the students experienced, forcing them to live in bad housing in Chinatown, even if they could afford better. More factors which we can never escape from are how the atmosphere we grew up in views our subject matter (implicit biasis) and how much (if at all) we have learned to conquer this.
Image courtesy of: Google Images
Information courtesy of: Bieler, Stacey. “Chapter 6: Student Ambassadors” “Patriots” or “Traitors”?: A History of American-Educated Chinese Students, 199-250