In Singapore, many Indonesian students are Chinese descent. When the first time they come, most of them expect English speaking environment, which is true in academic world. But outside it, other languages are widespread, especially Mandarin Chinese. Many of the Indonesian Chinese do not expect such a counter when, for example, some of the canteen aunties cannot speak English and only speak Chinese to them. When they meet Malaysian or Singaporean friends, many of them also speak in Chinese among themselves. Indonesian Chinese feel alienated, although they are also considered as Chinese.
I remembered there was Malaysian girl asked me whether I can speak Chinese. I answered just can say a little, then she asked me whether my parents can speak Chinese, I said “yes, they can”. She answered, “Why don’t they teach you?”. That query made me ask to myself. Actually my father speaks Chinese not so fluent, at least not as fluent as my mother. And also my parent’s working environment is not in Chinese, not even Indonesian, but in Javanese. In fact, many of my Chinese friends in primary and secondary school, if not most of them, even their parents are not able or only speak little Chinese.