Earlier this week, our In depth research project was announced to us “Chinese in Johannesburg”.
I was just like [Insert blank stare here]. After the announcement we had a few guest speakers come in to give us a bit of background on the Chinese community in Johannesburg, where they came from, where they are and their struggles in Johannesburg under apartheid.
At this point I was like, okay maybe kinda sorta. This could work.
This afternoon we ventured into the original China Town on Commissioner street, where I met a petite Chinese woman who told me, that If I wanted to get skinny, Tea was not going to help me if I didn’t exercise. She gently put her hand on my belly and said “you must work hard”, then told me to have some green tea.
So there I was, in the middle of China town, drinking some green tea, trying to figure out why I had never known about this, but before I could find someone to blame (what is wrong with my friends? Why haven’t they told me about this place??) we were off to Cyrildene, the new China town.
Cyrildene was nothing like Commissioner Street.
A lot of the community aren’t very fluent in English so it wasn’t very easy to interact with them and ask them about questions. One of the shop keepers was able to tell me that a floating blob looking thing in her shop was duck blood, we got a little stuck when I tried to find out what it was used for.
While I zoned around the shops, I came across a young woman with her baby. I instantly gravitated to that beautiful baby, and before I knew it I had my hands out to that baby smiling at him. I don’t know what it is about me and babies. Afterwards I stepped back and thought, this is someone else’s baby. What if she isn’t comfortable with this?
This is my biggest worry at the moment. How am I going to break down these boundaries? How am I going to become part of this community, so that they can allow me to tell their stories?
Right now I feel like the woman from Sui Hing Hong, the Chinese store on Commissioner Street, knows more about what I need to do, that she realizes. I “must work hard”.
Tomorrow, we brainstorm.