There is an amusing story I want to share, and it, somehow, may be offensive to some of you. But this is true, and it is happening. Currently, I am a sophomore student at James Madison University, and it has already been a year since the first day I came to America.
At JMU, there is a program that is made especially for international students, which is called "Pathway Program". The reason for this program is that it will help us quickly get used to the new environment by studying with just only international students, and the capacity of the class is much smaller. So, our classes didn't have many students, the maximum was around 20 of us, for some classes, there were only five students! There are not that many international students at my school, so basically, I met new friends, and most of them are also international students from other countries.
However, this year is different. Now, I'm officially having classes with all American students. I was so excited, and I expected to make new friends until I realized how hard it was to talk to other students. In other words, our culture is so different and the stories I had back in my country hardly can be shared with them. I was hoping that everything was going to be better until I met that girl in one of my Communication class last two weeks.
Now, I will tell you about "The Free Country" Story. We were sitting in a group of six, introducing our name and of course, they found out that I'm an international student. That girl who sat next to me was so nice and friendly at first, and I thought that we could be friends. However, after 20 minutes, our professor asked us to find another group, but I was so tired because of the jet-lag so I cound't hear it clear. I just turned and asked that girl: "Hey, so what do we have to do now?". And this is what I received:
"Why are you so shy? America is a free country; do whatever you want."
I was shocked! For a moment, my mind was empty. What on earth did you say?? All I asked was just a simple question. If you cannot say something beautiful, so shut up. I know that it was my fault for not listening carefully to the professor, but what was the point for saying something like that. It was so rude! I was offended. As soon as I realized how tough this situation was, I quickly wrapped her hand, gave her a friendly smile, and gently asked her:
"Are you sure you want to talk about freedom with me? Because as far as I know, my country has a long story with your country, and it is all about our freedom.".
Ok, I forgot to tell you, I'm Vietnamese, and most of you should know about the Vietnam War.
That girl in my class destroyed my day, but at least, she did a great job helping me realize one important thing: Racism does exist, and that people still have preconceptions toward international students.