On Friday night I went to a celebration of the Chinese New Year. A friend in my ward served her mission there and invited a group to go and enjoy the food and program. Hosted in the WILK ballroom, I was surprised to walk past the partitions at the entrance and immediately go from being part of the majority to a minority. The room was filled with a quiet rumble of Chinese conversations many of whom were joined by returned missionaries and Asian students. It was fun to be back in a situation where I didn't understand what was going on and someone had to translate for me so that I could follow the program and know why we were clapping.
The food was not the Chinese food I expected, but I realized how bad I am at eating rice with chopsticks. The aspect of the event that I found most interesting was the program. Unlike what I thought would be a stereotypical Chinese performance, the dancers weren't very good. I have an image that Asians excel at most everything they do and work hard at it. But these performers were uncoordinated and seemed like they were practicing rather than entertaining. A few guys danced with Chinese fans, which in my mind would normally be connected with women. But I soon realized that this wasn't my culture and my judgments were based on my expectations of what Chinese culture should be. It was a good reminder of the need to be aware of where stereotypes become the basis for judgment.