20 Questions People Ask You When You’re Asian in a Small Town

There are a few absolutes that will happen when you are Asian in a small town. You will be stared at and you will be forced to play the game 20 Questions with people. The staring thing is easy: stare back or ignore it. The questioning is what really brings out the Jekyll and Hyde in me.  I don’t mind so much when the person asking is someone that I will have a personal or professional relationship with. It’s when absolute strangers feel it’s their right to ask invasive, personal questions about my life that I want to scream. I get it. People are curious (read: nosy) or want to relate to me because their cousin’s best friend’s brother just adopted a child from Cambodia. No matter their good intentions, I constantly feel like I have to justify my existence in America. Nothing says, “You don’t look like you belong here,” more than a barrage of questions about why I look different. My mother raised me to be polite so I force a smile and answer their questions while I silently fume.

Here are a few of the questions I suffer through:

  1. Konichiwa! / Ni hao!
  2. Where are you from?
  3. No, I mean where are you really from?
  4. What nationality are you?
  5. What ethnicity are you?
  6. How long have you lived here?
  7. You’re English is really good! You barely have an accent. When did you start studying English?
  8. Do you speak Korean?
  9. How many languages do you know?
  10. Were you born in North Korea or South Korea?
  11. Are your parents Asian?
  12. Do you have siblings? Are they adopted, too?
  13. Wow. You could have half-siblings. Have you ever thought about that?
  14. Did you hear about the Korean twins that were separated at birth and adopted to different countries? How cool would that be? [It’s Not as Cool as You Think]
  15. Have you ever visited Korea?
  16. Do you remember anything about Korea?
  17. Do you want to go back to Korea?
  18. Have you ever met your real mom?
  19. Have you ever heard about the Baby Dropbox?
  20. Isn’t the Baby Dropbox a wonderful thing?
    [Why the Baby Dropbox is the Worst Idea Ever]