As foreigners people are naturally curious and want to ask a lot of questions about our life… but the tone of the question can take on a very different feel depending what people want out of the relationship. Some people are openly interested in getting to know us better and wanting to be a friend they ask questions like: “How long have you been here?” “How old are you?” “Are you married?” “Where did you learn to speak our language?” “How long do you plan on living in this country?” I gladly answer each one of these questions and in turn reciprocate and find out more about the person sitting next to me. I go away feeling like I am really part of life here and connecting with my neighbors and friends.
Other people look at me and only see a white face and what they suppose is a big western bank account. These people also have an array of questions: “What is your job here?” “How much money do you make each month?” “Can you teach my child English for free?” “How can you help me get a passport to your country?” I try to remain polite as I explain that in our culture asking someone their salary or financial information is a very rude thing since we consider this a private matter. I tell them that it is so private I don’t even know what my parents or my brother make each month, but somehow that does nothing to stop the on slaughter of the rest of their questions. I go away from these interactions feeling dirty and used and less than human.