I’m Not Chinese But I Am On Paper

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Back when I had a land line, I got my fair share of telemarketers. My favorites were the ones that spoke to me in Mandarin. It was amusing when they wouldn’t believe that I’m not Chinese. Even my postman would sometimes deliver junk mail containing only Chinese characters.

What made me so Chinese friendly special? I have a very common Chinese last name. Here’s the kicker. I’m Vietnamese American. I don’t receive very many phone calls from Vietnamese speaking telemarketers. At least I could understand what they were selling.

Once, as a kid, I asked my dad if we had Chinese blood in our family line. You know, if we go way, way, way up in our family tree. After all China occupied Vietnam for many years, so my question made sense. My father answered without any hesitation. “Of course not! We’re Vietnamese!” He was so firm that I never brought it up again.Yikes!

It wasn’t until my adult years that finally did some research. It totally makes sense to me why both cultures celebrate the Lunar New Year in similar ways. Same with the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival. There, mystery solved.

Just don’t tell my dad.


This post was inspired by The Headmaster’s Wager.

Headmaster Percivial Chen is a proud Chinese born man who runs English language school during the cusp of the Vietnam War. In his refusal to accept his adopted country’s turbulent times, his gamble becomes a life changer. Join From Left to Writeon November 15 as we discuss the The Headmaster’s Wager. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

Photo by Michael Dawes via Creative Commons

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