A few days ago one of my students asked me if I am famous in the USA. It got me started thinking about how I often feel famous here in China.
Let me clarify. Living in a small city in China, remember small is relative in China, people look at me as though I’m famous.
I hear them say, “look it’s a foreigner!” (In Chinese of course). They are surprised when I acknowledge them after hearing them say this. I turn around and say hello and suddenly they don’t know how to say words.
One day I was waiting at a bus stop for my bus. There were about 40 kids who were on lunch from school at this particular bus stop. I could hear several small groups of them daring each other to come and talk to me. A few of them asked to take pictures with me. Many tried to talk to me in English. When I finally got on the bus, they all yelled “goodbye” and waved at me as my bus drove away.
A couple of weeks ago, one of the western coffee shops had a concert night, as part of their monthly Open Mic Night. A group of friends and I arrived early to eat dinner and get a good table near the front. When the event started the cameras never ceased being in our faces. A few of our group ended up on the local news. Pictures of us from that night are now hanging in the coffee shop.
Is this what fame feels like…?
So to my student I said I’m not famous in America, but I feel famous in China.
For now, I shall soak up this false sense of fame. Smiling. Conversing in broken English (and Chinese). Being in pictures with strangers, and their children. It isn’t really that hard.