They Look Down Upon You

“In the twinkling of an eye, the enthusiasm and expectation my friends had of America had gone far, far away.”

Hold a Conversation

In addition to the questions below, please see How to use the questions for reflection.

Clarifying Questions

  • What kinds of discrimination do the Chinese students experience?
  • How does the first speaker react when a car pulls over at night and the people inside say, “Stupid Chinese?” Where do you think this happened at?
  • Why does the second speaker feel bad working in groups? What does she mean by the phrase “professional smile?”
  • How is the third speaker’s experience similar to and different from the first speakers?

Interpretive Questions

  • Who do you think are the people in the cars yelling at the Chinese students? Can you imagine a situation in which their behavior might change? Who’s responsible for creating that situation?
  • If you had a chance to share with these students, what would you want them to know about American perceptions of international students?

Implication Questions

  • If you were to witness Chinese students getting yelled at, how would you like to respond? What might get in the way of accomplishing that?
  • Have you ever worn a “professional smile?” When and why?
  • Would you have liked to do something different? What would it take to be able to respond in this other way?

Let us know how the conversation or self-reflection went. Email us or discuss the experience in our comment box.

Transcript for They Look Down Upon You

The problem of discrimination still remains in the United States and discrimination has not only happened to me, but also to many other Chinese students who I know. Discrimination can fall into many levels. The lowest one is being unsociable – they look down upon you. And then they may say something to you. Proceed to the next step and racism will show up. When I had just arrived here, I didn’t have a car. [One day] I was walking down the street. Suddenly, a car stopped just in front of me. They rolled down the windows and then they said, “Stupid Chinese.” Before I came here, I did some research. I knew that something like this would happen in America. It is a country of immigrants; different kinds of people live here, so, this kind of thing might happen. So I did not care too deeply, but I felt unsafe and it was dangerous because people in the US have the freedom to have guns. It doesn’t matter if they just say some dirty words to you, but this experience happened at night. I was afraid they might do something to me.

[At VU,] I felt hard-pressed to catch up to other students. I understood what the professor was talking about in class, but when it came to what other students said, I didn’t understand them. I felt bad when we had group work. Some classmates didn’t want to talk to international students. I can’t bear the indifference of my classmates. They may think it is normal because they really do not have anything to talk to you about. But when I talk to them, I can see the expression on their face–they are all wearing their “professional” smile. And so I felt that we could not be good friends.

There was another thing that happened recently, this August. It happened to some new students and they are also my friends. In August, they had just arrived to begin their lives at VU. We took them downtown to show them around, to get to know Valpo. A car drove toward them. It seemed people in the car were well prepared. There were four people in that car–two boys and two girls. They rolled the windows down, took out a big loudspeaker, and yelled to my friends, “Go back, Chinese dog.” In the twinkling of an eye, the enthusiasm and expectation my friends had of America had gone far, far away.

They Look Down Upon You–Short Version

Transcript for They Look Down Upon You–Short Version

There was another thing that happened recently, this August. It happened to some new students and they are also my friends. In August, they had just arrived to begin their lives at VU. We took them downtown to show them around, to get to know Valpo. A car drove toward them. It seemed people in the car were well prepared. There were four people in that car–two boys and two girls. They rolled the windows down, took out a big loudspeaker, and yelled to my friends, “Go back, Chinese dog.” In the twinkling of an eye, the enthusiasm and expectation my friends had of America had gone far, far away.