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In 6th grade I moved from Ontario, Canada to New York, and told several of my new classmates that beaver tails are a Candian delicacy, that my old school had been held in an igloo, and that I rode a dogsled or possibly a mammoth instead of a schoolbus each morning. (Some of them caught on when I got to the mammoth, some didn't.)
An adult had told me that people in China are of the 'yellow' race and that people in India were 'brown' and people in Africa 'black.' Naturally, I was confused why there were countries on the globe colored pink, green and blue, too.
I'm white, but my father is pretty swarthy and has kinky hair. I inherited my mother's coloring -- very fair. One day when I was about six or so I held up my arm because I thought I had a sort of tan. My dad held up his (much darker) arm next to mine and said "Look! We're of different racial sects!" Ah, that's why he's so much darker, I thought: because he's black! I didn't really understand genetics, obviously, but I thought of one of my best friends as black, and he had a white mom and a black dad, so it all seemed totally reasonable. I don't remember how long it took for me to figure things out.
As an add-on to this, the picture of Abraham Lincoln hanging up in my 1st-grade classroom looked a bit like my dad, so I decided that he was black too. Made sense why he would want to free the slaves, didn't it?
I kept hearing my husband say that "AL needs a Visa" to return her for work. Well, one day I said to my Hubby "Why don't we get him a card under our account" Boy was I ridiculed about that. I believed a visa was a charge card......I was 35 yrs old!!
When we were selling our furniture, a Dutch family came over to view the beds. Their son was like 6'5" and when they left, my sister asked why Dutch people were so tall. My dad told my sister that this was because Dutch people put their children in growbags, to make them tall. My sister believed this for about a year and told just about everyone she knows, including teachers :P She was 9.
He also told her last Christmas that a news flash on Sky News had just told him that Santa Claus had died, after being electrocuted by fairy lights. I'm beginning to think my dads a bit of a sadist :P
I used to think all Chinese people were kung fu experts. Must have been from watching so many martial arts movies with my dad.
When i was about 5 years old my parents would say not to drop the flag or well have to burn it soo until i was like nine i used to beleive that if a flag touched the ground it would simeltaniously combust
I'm from Norway and when I was 16, I went to the USA for a year. On my first day of highschool, I had to introduce myself and told people that I was from Norway and someone actually asked me if we had ELECRICITY in Norway!
When I watched the Olympics when I was little, I didn't know that there were other countries and thought that Canada was another state.
I thought that people in foreign countries dressed in their native costumes all the time, like German's in Leiderhosen, and Dutch in wooden shoes, and Russians in big furry hats. I guess those filmstrips we watched in grade school were REALLY old.
I used to believe that there were only two races in the world, black and white. I thought until I was like 11 or 12 that Chinese people were just white people with different eyes because the skin was more or less the same color to me. And someone told me that it was the constant wind that caused that. After watching cartoons like Aladdin I also thought Arabic people could find genies and have wishes and stuff, and that he was actually Italian.
And I also thought Irish people were all leprachauns. And that the whole world was one religion.
Growing up in Germany, I used to believe that all Americans were black. That is probably because I assumed every white person I saw was German. Only when I saw a black person did it occurr to me it might be a foreigner, and those were mostly Americans in that region.
With the help of American movies and TV series, I later adjusted this belief. About half of the Americans must be black and the other half white. That seemed only fair to me. I was very surprised when I found out the real percentage in school.
When I was too young to understand the concept of a nationality, people still asked me, "Where are you from?" I didn't understand what they meant, so I just answered the most logical way I could--the most recent place I had left. "I'm from my house/the school/the market/etc..." Sometimes the timing was bad and I would have to answer, "The loo."
My family has always gotten wall calenders that contain both American and Canadian holidays. For years I remember seeing December 26th as "Boxing Day (Canada)" and thinking that meant instead of celebrating Christmas on the 25th, all Canadians went to a big boxing match on the 26th. I felt sorry for all the Canadian kids because I thought boxing was really boring. I'm still not sure what Boxing Day is, but I know it's not THAT.
I thought that when a black and white person had a baby it would be Peurto Rican
When I was a kid, I'd never heard of Wales, so I thought that Princess Diana was Princess of Whales. I always pictured her riding on an orca.
When my mom was little--six or seven--she had a friend of the same age. My family is Armenian, and my mom's friend is a Wonderbread American girl.
So, at dinner one night, my mom's friend asked her parents,
"Mom, Dad, if Vicky is OUR-menian, are we HER-menian?"
Forty five years later, she still loves that story.
I used to believe that there was one of me in each country around the world, and if I was patient enough, I would eventually meet up with them. I couldn't wait to meet the French version of me, the Chinese me, the Mexican me...
When you are little the world fills up bit by bit with foreign countries. At the time I'm thinking of I at least knew there was America, Germany, Poland and Eskimoland, with just that minimum image of each to be going on with (never mind how crazy with hindsight). But there was also Switzerland which maybe wasn't a proper country, you never saw it in newsreels or heard it mentioned in news bulletins or newsreels for instance, but on the other hand every day I saw our 'Made in Switzerland' clock so it had to be a half-real country at least. But frustratingly I knew two and only two things associated with the Swiss to construct an image with, Swiss mountains which were big hills and Swiss rolls. Putting this scanty material together I guessed a good way of moving around in mountains would be to roll down them. I formed this image which has never quite abandoned me, of lots of Swiss people rolling bumpily down these vast slopes. That raised an obvious problem - not even knowing of ski-lifts I just lived with the idea they never went uphill, they started life at the top and never went back.
I disagreed with the philistine way adults ate Swiss rolls, cutting a slice and just eating it like an ordinary piece of cake; I insisted on eating them as they were meant to be, from the outside in. I vaguely remember this being tolerated while a parental line was drawn at my eating them from the inside out. One day with my parents on a shopping expedition I discovered carpet rolls in which they were taking an great interest. These obviously suggested Swiss rolls, and I also realised it would be a more comfortable ride to roll down a mountain inside one. I imagined Swiss people, more often than wrapping them around, climbing into the middle of one of these rolls when they had to go somewhere.
At some point though I knew more words of Swiss than I did of any other foreign language. I remember the words were yodeledi yodeledi yedi ledidee. Not an encouraging start for language learning: not only I didn't know what any of those words meant, but I thought I couldn't hope to master the difficult pronunciation of this language. Still, the rhythm of those words was just right for Swiss to sing them in their outlandish tongue in synch with the rotations as they rolled down the mountains in their carpets.
When I was in first grade there was a poster in my classroom of children of the world in cultural dress. For some reason, the children from Thailand had very long fingers. For years I believed that they were born that way.