Culture Magazine

How Long Does It Take to Belong?

By Sedulia @Sedulia


Today I was talking to a Vietnamese-French guy who had been in Paris for 35 years. He spoke French perfectly (as far as I could tell anyway; and after all these years, I really can tell a bit). "So you're really Parisian," I said. 

"It's different for you," he said. "From a distance, you look French. With me, they always can tell I am asiatique."

It's true that people often ask me for directions in Paris. When I'm here, I dress in "protective coloration" and not like an American. But I asked him if his children felt more French, or more Vietnamese. 
"Oh, they're not the tiniest bit Vietnamese," he said. "They don't speak the language and they don't know the culture. But they'll never really be French, either."

I'm not sure he's right, though. 


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