I finally did my civic duty this weekend and filled out my census form. I noted with interest that this is the first time I remember being counted as part of the population of the United States.
When I was young, we lived in Pakistan, so doubt I or my family were included in the census figures of 1960 or 1970.
I was in college in 1980, and don’t remember filling out any census form, although it’s possible I did and just forgot.
In 1990 I was in China. They did a census there that year, but were not interested in counting foreigners. Same thing in 2000.
By 2010, however, China had decided that they wanted to include all foreigners in the census, so I finally got a chance to be included in the population of a country! I wrote about my encounter with a census taker at the time. Here’s an excerpt:
Earlier this evening the census takers came to my door. Apparantly I was the first big nose on her beat because she seemed a bit confused about how to fill out the special form to count foreigners.
After the obligatory “you’re Chinese is so good — no, it’s terrible” pleasantries were dispensed with, she recorded my name, sex, passport # (not residence permit or visa #, interestingly), how long I’ve lived in this apartment, and my phone number. That’s it.
Then, because an event of this magnitude cannot pass without the giving of a gift, she presented me with a bright pink “I cooperated with the 2010 census” apron!! Iwonder what I’ll do with that — leave it out for my housekeeper to use, I suppose.
I’m looking forward to next year’s release of the census results. I can see the headline now: In 2010, China’s population stood at 1.4 billion citizens and 724,000 ‘Big Nosed Foreigners.’ One of those big noses will be mine.
A few months later, I was visited by another census worker, who after walking me through the questions, kindly gave me a gift laundry basket!
In the spring of 2011, China announced the results of their census. Turns out I was one of 71,500 Americans living in China, and one of 107,445 foreigners living in Beijing at the time.
I plan to drop my census form in the mail tomorrow. Something tells me that I won’t be getting a gift.
Oh well; at least this time I’ll be included in the count of people in the United States.
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