Foreigner in a foreign land

By Kema Hodge 

As an African-American, I am considered a minority in America. Yet, I am simply a foreigner here in Cambodia. Last night, our class went out on the town. For many, it was our first time stepping outside the comforts and safety of the Journey’s Within Bed and Breakfast at night and it was an experience that I will personally never forget.

Having heard good things about a club called Zone One, we decided to see what all the talk was about. As we stepped in, we were caught in a frenzy of disco strobe lights, green laser lights, disco/techno music, and many dancing Cambodians. Comfortable in the club scene, we immediately headed for the dance floor; after all, the music was calling our name. As we allowed the music to move us, I became aware of the stares.  As I looked around us, I noticed that we were literally the center of attention. At least 10 pairs of Cambodian eyes watched us from their place on the dance floor. Immediately struck by an overwhelming sense of self-consciousness, I willed my body restrict movement in an attempt to adopt a similar dance style as the women around us. This proved difficult, but the desire to fit in was enough to leave me standing in place with barely a sway in my hips.

As the night progressed, the feeling of standing out became more pronounced. Any time we drew attention to ourselves, I was flushed with a sense of discomfort.

However, that isn’t to say that I didn’t have a good time that night, it was simply the first time I have ever truly felt like a foreigner.


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