I have never been diagnosed with PTSD, but I am very sure that– starting last year– I’ve been suffering from it. Whenever I get anxious, my mind brings me to a very unpleasant memory from my early teenage years. The details of how those people used language harassment toward me is still crystal clear in my brain.
I need to start all the way back to when my mom brought me to America for the first time in 2015. She would do research for a year at the University of Kansas before moving back to China– bringing me along. That year was like a perfect dream, though, at the time, I did not have a solid grasp of the English language or the American lifestyle. Many people today ask me, “how come you didn’t have any cultural shock when you first came here?” I remember that I was indeed nervous when I first walked into the front door of my new middle school and saw that no one looked the same as me. Why was everyone blonde, and why was every poster on the wall in English? But the students and teachers were surprisingly patient and kind to me, and I got involved with their community quickly.
I traveled to many places in the US during that summer, made a lot of connections, and learned to speak English with confidence. I was a genuinely happy teenage boy, and I don’t remember being discriminated against at all.
A year went by quickly; now I was supposed to leave. I didn’t think that I would be back in the US any time soon. I cried (partly due to having a crush on an American girl), fantasized every piece of memory in this town called Lawrence, Kansas (that’s why I am secretly a Jayhawk fan!), and didn’t know what the future would look like.
I ended up going to a so-called international boarding school back in China. Many people may not know this, but most Chinese parents wish that their children would get higher education in western countries due to an implicit disappointment in the Chinese educational system– giving rise to a huge market of international high schools. The school I went to was full of wealthy, spoiled kids– with many of them probably failing to perform well enough academically to get into regular high schools. All the students did was chat loudly in class, play video games, and watch anime: nothing else. I didn’t find myself having many things in common with them.
Then I got bullied… for wanting to create a current events discussion club. You know how hard it is when you’re in China, you love politics, and you dissent with the mainstream narrative. I was young, and I really made myself look stupid. We tried to keep a toad on campus as it actually, according to the internet memes, had a funny resemblance with a very charismatic former Chinese president. However, the toad ended up inside a toilet; later on, the entire restroom of the boy’s dorm was infested with perhaps its offspring. God only knows why that happened.
I soon became a meme in that little boarding school– which I hate to think about. The club failed miserably. I felt so helpless as groups of students, even those who initially helped with the club and that exact person who first bought the toad, repeatedly and viciously mocked me. Keep in mind that this was a small, closed environment without the presence of a much higher authority. Yes, some of them even dared to laugh at me during class, and the teacher didn’t do much to stop them. Thankfully, I was never treated with violence, but I once witnessed a student brutally throwing a stool toward a teacher.
Granted, every school in China is not like that, but I can confidently say that I’ve seen school bullies and horrible teachers at nearly every single school there I’ve been to.
So, what could I possibly do at this point except hope to move back to America? I had missed the freedom, the love, the respect, and the fresh air so much– y’all can’t imagine. The American Dream was a big motivation for me amid this distress, as it might potentially save me from it. Thankfully, I made it at last after impatiently putting all of my effort into exam preparation and application processes.
After three semesters of torture, I ended up gradudating from high school in Wichita, Kansas (of course I was going to stick with Kansas). I spent three amazing years there before moving to Austin, and I met some great friends that may likely last for a lifetime.
Now, I hope that you can finally understand why I hold such a positive attitude toward America. America did indeed save my life, and it provided me with brand-new opportunities that I could have never dreamed of.
Most importantly, as I have experienced discrimination from people of the same color, same culture, same language, and same gender, I realized that people can be hateful for thousands of reasons, even if society has completely eliminated racism and homophobia. In the end, all you have to do is to self-empower and have confidence in yourself. Just respect others regardless, I really don’t see the necessity to be overly obsessed with only specific concepts.
Last but not least, in an English class that I’m taking this semester (and I certainly don’t enjoy it at all), I’m pretty sure that the professor incorporated critical race theory into the syllabus so that every single reading is from the perspective of the so-called underrepresented in American history. Black, Native, Hispanic, women, gay… you name it. I can definitely understand many of the dilemmas they faced at their time, but I find it hard to truly relate with the thesis of this class. When a student in the discussion section once remarked, “when was America, with a racist history, ever great?” I genuinely wanted to refute his argument but was too afraid to speak up; it unfortunately reminded me of how it feels to dissent in China.
In my eyes, America also has a long history of correcting itself and is already THE most inclusive place I have ever been to in this entire world. So, in short, my love for America, driven by my trauma in china, is the reason why I am a conservative.