Before I even reached Gutu, Nepal, people from the village knew that an American was going to be staying there. They were expecting some white, blonde woman with blue eyes, instead what they got was me, a Bengali American.
People from different parts of the village came to talk to the “American” but they walked straight past me, mistaking me for a local Nepali woman. They can tell that I am foreigner by the way I walk and talk but I often asked the question “But where are you really from?” or “So, you are American but why do you look local?”
Those are loaded questions that come with the cultural baggage for someone who immigrated to America. I was even asked by two ladies on different occasions on whether or not I was born with black hair. I was not offended by their inquiries at all. They based their image of an American from what they saw in the media. It took endless explanations about how I was born in Bangladesh, and then moved to America for them to fully understand why I have dark skin, black hair and brown eyes.
What really did bother me was that when people heard that I was born in Bangladesh, they did not consider me to be American. Rather, they introduced me as Bengali to others. I guess it is a good thing that I look Nepali and can blend into the community easily, without having awkward stares or people pulling out their phones to take pictures of me.
It also feels good to be the representative of my country in Gutu, changing people’s perception of what an American can also look like.
Posted By Dorothy Khan (Nepal)
Posted Jun 23rd, 2016