1st post for me. My name is James, and I am American Chinese. I would call myself Chinese American if I wasn't born in the States. I joined this community because I thought I might have some commonality with a few of you. Its kind of funny in that, people look to others with similarity to feel more at home; more comfortable. So there are tons of Chinese dialects; the most common being Cantonese and Mandarin. I speak a dialect that comes from both China and Vietnam. They call it "ai". Its similar to Cantonese but there are subtle differences.
I'm taking a Mandarin class at my college, and its going quite well. I feel that I'm getting in touch with my heritage. Back in high school, I was shunned by the typical azn Chinese crowd, because I couldn't speak their language or I refused to speak to "prove" my Chineseness. I didn't feel like I fit in, always felt like an outsider, a minority within the minority.
My parents, had the chance of teaching my siblings and I Cantonese, but they chose to teach us this "dying" dialect (I say dying because there aren't a lot of us around). When my parents took me to Chinese school back when I was like in 3rd and 4th grade, I had good and bad experiences there; mainly bad though. The good was that I met some really interesting students there, but the bad was that I was made fun of when I tried to speak to the other kids (mainly Cantonese) in my dialect. I felt like I was lower class just cause I couldn't speak their dialect. I can pretty much understand them, but they can't understand me. Perhaps the effect of all this has had affects on the way I view myself.
Now that I've gotten older and see things differently. I am more appreciative of where my parents are from, and where my heritage is from. I am glad that my parents taught me this language; I'm proud to speak it. I eventually plan to learn Cantonese (shouldn't be too hard...).