Taking Pictures of Foreigners

On the Nanjing trip, there were foreigners form different parts of the world. There were the Americans from different states, there were the Europeans from different countries like Germany and Denmark, and there was Nicky, the lone Comorian from the Comoros Islands. In the United States, Asians are glanced at and people move on with their daily lives. I do not know what happens in Europe, but I am under the impression that they do the same. In China, foreigners are looked upon as if they were some rare species that need to be documented. Throughout the whole trip, there were Chinese people coming up to the group and asking to take pictures with the white and black people of the group. These pictures would escalate form one or two people asking, to groups of Asians joining the picture to take pictures with the one or two foreigners.

None of the Asian foreigners were asked to be in the group picture because they look the same as the rest of the Asians. This may sound stereotypical, but there is some truth to that statement. It IS very uncommon to see white or black foreigners in China, and so they have become a type of attraction. Some Asians are too afraid to ask and would just take pictures from afar. But many were bold and would take pictures right in front of people’s faces. Most of the foreigners in the group enjoyed the attention and took many pictures. Others were offended or were tired of people constantly taking pictures of them and would move out of the way. The question is, why are foreigners such an interesting thing to see, that people flock over from wherever they are to take pictures of them?

Maybe it is because there are 1 billion Chinese people in the country and it is nice to see people who do not look similar. In the United States, there is a variety of people and so life does not seem boring. In China, everyone is similar, even the ethnic groups. In the rest of the world, this does not seem to happen as often. Maybe Asians just find foreigners more fascinating because they do not have the chance to view them as often as people in the rest of the world do.