I usually pretend I don’t speak Cantonese

I’m Jenny, I grew up in Hong Kong, Belgium, and then Hong Kong again. I had two very different families, with different cultures and languages. It wasn’t easy for me, I didn’t go to an international school, but to a local one. This way, somehow I was always the outsider. When I was young kids in school would ask me lots of weird questions about Hong Kong, but I couldn’t answer them; I’d left Hong Kong when I was just four. So I was just the strange girl who couldn’t speak or read Dutch, and was related to Bruce Lee or something.

Somehow I was always the outsider

Then going back to Hong Kong in my early teens I was labeled a hot eurasian. More because I had a terrible temper I think. I was often asked to model, so decided to go with that and started modeling and acting. I was often compared to Miss Hong Kong, or local actresses, but I got some strange reactions in the press about my body size, very embarrassing. I always remained the Eurasian girl – or gweimui as they’d say.

I always thought I’d marry a Eurasian guy, cause I felt like only a Eurasian could understand my problems. I’ve been traveling a lot the past three years, and always there’s the question of where I’m from. I still don’t know how to answer that. And sometimes people would just start talking to me in their language, thinking I was a local. Even in South America! When they ask me what nationality I am, I also don’t know. I have a few passports, so I just decide what ‘flavour’ I want to go for that day.

JennyDeleeuw-1My favourite part is how amazed people are when they find out how many languages I speak. They look at me as if I’m a genius… My ego loves that. Then I tell them I know Cantonese because my dad is Chinese. And then the usual reply is “OMG your father is Chinese, that’s so unique!” I guess everyone just thinks only White people travel. I don’t know.

Now I usually pretend I don’t speak Cantonese

Some little things are like when I go to the hairdresser I’m doomed! I got my Asian skin, but thin Belgian hair. Hairdressers get so confused! Or when I go shopping in Hong Kong, I get treated like a tourist. Sometimes it takes five minutes for them to realise I’m speaking Cantonese to them! Now I usually pretend I don’t speak it. Makes it easier to bargain. Like this once I was buying a car, and I heard them discuss what price they’d accept. So I replied to them in Cantonese. I love how shocked they were!

These are just a few things from the life of a Eurasian. Maybe now you can imagine why we are usually drawn to each other. We belong everywhere and can be from anywhere, just depending on how we feel that day. We’re cool!

 

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Edited by Sam Bekemans

1 COMMENT

  1. Dear Jenny
    You are an amazing lady and I miss you
    Brilliant that you can speak so many languages.
    Keep in touch
    Michele Kalish

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