Annelie (23) was born in China and raised in The Netherlands. She was adopted by Dutch parents when she was 2 years old. She identifies herself as 100% Dutch
What kind of upbringing did you have? There is also a term: “Tiger parents or Tiger mom”. Did you have a similar upbringing?
No, I did not have an upbringing like that at all. I grew up with Dutch parents. When I was in high school, they gave me the chance to choose my own future. I could spend the time how I wanted to spend it, and I had a lot of different kinds of activities. They helped me when I needed them and they especially stimulated me to do the things I loved.
Are there any taboos or things that you can’t discuss with your parents?
No, I have a very good relationship with my parents. I can talk with them about everything. This is similar to a lot of Dutch friends I have. They also have open conversations/discussions with their parents. I really appreciate this way of communication, because I don’t feel ashamed about anything.
Do you feel close with your Asian roots or not? Did you also research your roots, background, ethnicity, history or not? Why did you, and why didn’t you?
I don’t feel close to my roots. Mainly because I was very young when I came to the Netherlands. I can’t remember anything from China. When I grew up, I became a typical Dutch girl. Eight years ago I did a tour through China together with my parents for a holiday, but in particular to learn more about the culture and see the well known places. We also visited the place where I lived when I was little. Later in my life I went again to China (Chongqing) for an exchange-program. It was great and I met a lot of Chinese students.
Did you ever feel ashamed of you being Asian?
Yes, when I was in high school some people made racist comments. Back then I became uncertain about my ethnicity and appearance.
Did you ever have a role model when you grew up?
When I was younger I didn’t have a role model. Right now, one of my role models is Lana Condor. It’s amazing how she predominates as Asian. I see her as a strong Asian woman. I really think role models are important, they can make you stronger in your way of thinking.
What do you think of the Asian representation in The Netherlands?
The representation of Asians in the Netherlands is better than it was before, I believe. I see more Asian people appear on TV, for example TV series, and I think that’s really nice. Even though I am adopted (and feel more Dutch than Chinese) I am glad to see how the Asian representation is growing in the Netherlands.
What do you think of the ‘The Asian Model Minority Myth’?
No, I do not agree with this. It is a stereotype. Nobody is perfect and we are all different individuals with our own talents. I think the world would be better when we help each other.
What made you who you are now?
Because of racism and being seen as a stereotype, I have learned what makes me special and unique from others. Because we all are unique and different.
Have people also made comments about you being Chinese?
Yes, when I was younger. There were a lot of negative comments and there were also people who made ‘just jokes’. Even though they aren’t ‘just jokes’ for a teenager. It hurts when people say things to you that aren’t true. Now it basically doesn’t happen to me anymore, and when some do say hurtful things, I don’t let it get to me.
What are stereotype Asians in your opinion and where does that come from? Do you see other Asians like those stereotypes?
I learned the Dutch way of stereotyping Asians. That they work in a restaurant and that they eat everything. Totally wrong, I know better. A Chinese friend of mine was a hard working student and she’s a teacher now. Oh, and she also likes to eat vegan now and then. Like I already said, everyone is unique.
Do you know any Chinese stereotypes and do you identify yourself with that?
The only stereotype that I can maybe relate to is ‘working hard’.
What stereotypes and comments have you heard about your appearance?
I still remember how people have called me ‘spleet-oog’, which is similar to ‘chink’ in English, when I was a teenager it made me very sad and insecure. I asked myself if I was good enough. Now, when people make that same remark I just ask them confidently; ‘Aren’t you just jealous because I have a panoramic view?!’
What racist remarks and discrimination have you experienced?
When I was younger, I had to duel with racism. I haven’t experienced racism during Corona-Crisis, luckily.
What is a funny trait or what is something that not everyone knows about you?
I can imitate the sound of a guinea pig, when I visit a pet shop all the guinea pigs run to me.
In Asian culture, it is normal as a woman to get married as soon as possible, have children, and become a housewife. Because when you have a husband, you have children, you have “made” it in life. How do you see it?
I grew up with Dutch norms and values. For me studying was really important, more important to become a house-wife as soon as possible.
Where do you stand now and what are your plans for the future?
I’m close to graduating as a teacher in Art and Design, so my purpose is to find work. It’s also my passion to work with elderly people and to do developmental work. I also want to travel a lot and spend days with my friends and family.
What do you want to give to the readers? What do you hope to achieve?
I hope people can understand what the consequences are when people make racist remarks. Especially for teenagers. I hope people see the uniqueness of Asians, and everyone else. We all have different passions and dreams. Please, keep this in mind.
What do you study and where? What work do you do and where?
I am almost finished with my study as a teacher in Art and Design at Minerva, Groningen. I am looking forward to my future.
Where can we follow you?