HELLO!

Being a white man in an Asian country, I not only stick out like a sore thumb and draw stares, but it’s also assumed that I speak fluent English. While this is true, it isn’t a fact that every foreigner does. The Turkish man I’m sitting next to on the train as I write this definitely does not. Regardless, this assumption is the reason for the popular Chinese youth pastime of yelling HELLO at foreigners. Afterwards they giggle and watch you as if they aren’t sure what’s going to happen. I doubt it’s crossed their minds they aren’t insulting me and instead just look like jackasses. I’m not really sure what their goals are by yelling it, and if they’re my age I wonder if they want to start a fight. They’re always in groups when they do it, and several times I’ve had to turn to walk in their direction and they nervously scattered. I’m guessing they don’t do it out of kindness or to be welcoming. Unless it’s been a long day it’s incredibly easy to brush off. I often wonder though how they’d react if I yelled back “Anyang” or “kounichiwa.” I’m white and they’re Asian, the irony seems fair. It has happened everywhere, when I’m eating at a restaurant, bar hopping, on a random street at any time of day, or even on the bus. It’s an occurrence I’d bet every foreigner has experienced multiple times here, or will experience. It’s harmless, laugh it off and keep walking

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