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THE CHINESE COMMUNITY

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The Chinese Community Lauren Hucaby University of Kentucky

CIS 110 Section 4 Alyson DeVito November 15, 2013


THE CHINESE COMMUNITY

2 Â Abstract

The Chinese culture is one of most close-knit communities. The people in the culture teach discipline, mutual dependence, and manners. In order to understand this community, I carefully observed the Chinese Moon Festival, the Chinese School, and the Chinese Christian Church. During my time observing these events and places, I discovered how kind the Chinese people are. I also learned about how the people of the culture need each other. Lastly, I grew to understand how varying cultures benefit each other. Because of my experiences within the Chinese culture, I now understand the Chinese community in a broader sense.


THE CHINESE COMMUNITY

3 Â The Chinese Community

The Chinese culture is one of discipline and mutual dependence. The people are hardworking and passionate about what they do. The Chinese community in Lexington, Kentucky was one that I had never experienced before. I was able to observe many aspects through the people and events. Those aspects helped me learn that not all stereotypes about certain people are true. The Chinese culture is different than the American culture in that it has a greater sense of community. From my experience, I learned that although there are great differences between the Chinese and American cultures, the two cultures need each other to balance out their strengths and weaknesses. Dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries, Chinese art, architecture and philosophy were highly admired in the West. However, following China's accelerated political and economic decline during the 19th and part of the 20th centuries, as a result of foreign encroachment upon its sovereignty, China's cultural appeal lost its shine. (Wang, 2013) I never had much of a connection with the Asian culture. I had one friend in high school who was from China, but other than that, I had never interacted with many people from that region. It was not until around a year ago, when my little sister decided to enroll in Chinese lessons, that I realized what an incredible culture China has. Every week my father and my sister go to Beaumont Middle School and take part in the Chinese school there. They have come home with stories about the incredible people. Their passion for the people sparked my interest as well. As an American, there are many stereotypes about Asian people. One stereotype that I personally had was that Asian people were not very friendly. I thought they would be so concerned with being disciplined and excelling in activities that they would be cold toward other


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people. Reasons for my stereotypes came from movies like Karate Kid, where Asians are displayed as students being forced to succeed so much that they have no social life. My stereotype was also reinforced by news stories about “Tiger Moms”. These are essentially Asian mothers that want their children to succeed so much that they scream at them and punish them harshly until they are the best at what they do. These stereotypes made me nervous when I decided to go observe the Asian people at my sister’s school and at various Chinese festival events. I was afraid that the stereotypes would be true. Little did I know that the people there would prove me wrong. The first event that I attended was the Chinese Moon Festival. When I entered the festival, I could tell that the Asian people were not cold at all. There was loud, joyful music playing. There were little children running around with huge smiles on their faces. There were tons of food made by some of the people from the school. There were games to play and many things to buy that were made by the people of the Chinese community.


THE CHINESE COMMUNITY

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It was neat to see all of the Chinese families walking around together and having fun. They seemed to really enjoy being together as one community. They also had great pride in their culture. The main aspect that I really liked about getting to observe the festival was the fact that the people still participated in such an old tradition. They also had more fun than I had seen people have in a long time. There were many smaller events during the Chinese Moon Festival. There were representatives from the Chinese Christian Church in town that came and sang praise songs in Chinese. There were little girls who participated in a “Chinese Water Lily Dance�. They were so adorable. They even had a band of Chinese instruments that played. All of the Chinese themed performances were very interesting. The people performing were very precise and you could tell that the people onstage loved what they did. The Chinese Moon Festival, I found, has great significance to the Chinese community. Originally, the Chinese people would closely follow the movements of the moon. This turned into a festival to celebrate the moon. The main feature of the festival was, ironically, moon cakes. These were given to people for good luck. The current Moon Festival still serves moon cakes. My family tried them and we did not like the taste. I felt that the historical significance countered the bitter taste. The fact that the Chinese people made each cake by hand for the community blew me away. The people have so much passion for their culture and for serving others. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the Moon Festival. It showed me that Chinese people are truly proud of their heritage. It also showed me that the people in that community love what they do.


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Another way that I got to experience the Chinese community was through my visits to the Chinese School with my father and sister. Each Saturday I had the opportunity to step into the school and see what the students did there each week.

There was a Lexington Chinese language school in Lexington a long time ago. That one was in Immanuel church. Two years ago, they moved to Tates Creek High School. They just borrowed the building there. But some students’ parents think that school, the program, the teaching methodology is not ideal to them. So eventually the president of the Kentucky Chinese Association – they decide they want to establish another one – that’s this one. It start last August. It’s been a year. (Y. Chou, personal communication, November 9, 2013).


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I expected the students to be extremely focused and serious about learning. The children, to my surprise, were running around and having a great time. It was interesting to see that the children not only had a desire to learn the Chinese language, but they also had fun while learning. The children there shattered my stereotypes about Asian students. Asian parents do teach discipline, but it does not alter their social life as I thought it would. One of the main Confucian concepts is filial piety. Children should try to satisfy their parents and respect and show reverence for their elders in all circumstances. Children are also taught mutual dependence, group identification, self-discipline, good manners, and the importance of education.” (Kelley and Tseng, 1992) The people at the school were warm and inviting. They consistently asked how we were doing. I could tell that they took great pleasure in getting to know people on a deeper level. The teachers showed love toward their students, and the students had a great time learning more about the Chinese culture. At least four families offered to cook us dinner the same night that we first met them. One woman even offered to cook us a whole Thanksgiving meal. During my visits to the Chinese school, I had the opportunity to interview my sister’s Chinese language teacher. Her name is Yunjin Chou. I learned many things from Ms. Chou. She has been a very influential person in my understanding of the Chinese culture. She explained many things, but particularly about why Chinese culture in America is so distinct. I wondered why Asian people would want to develop a mini community of students and families in the United States. Ms. Chou explained why: At the beginning, those students’ parents were immigrants from China and they settle down here. They still want their children to learn the Chinese language. So in the beginning, their goal was helping their children because they were immigrants, they are


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so-called American-Chinese and they still want to learn Chinese. They don’t want to forget their native language. Because Lexington is unlike New York or Chicago or Los Angeles, right? They have a Chinatown; they have more Chinese culture and more Chinese population and here, the Chinese population is less. But I think those groups of immigrants still want to see the Chinese culture in this little town. So they want to set up a Chinese school and also they have some kinds of celebrations for the Chinese New Year or Moon Festival, and they can invite some Chinese artist, practice Chinese martial art, and also practice Chinese dance. Although they were far away from their hometown, they can still see the Chinese culture here. (Y. Chou, personal communication, November 9, 2013). Another place I learned about Chinese culture was in the Chinese Christian Church. The people at the church worshiped partially in English, but mostly in Chinese. There were families that spoke fluent Chinese and also some English speaking people there who were not even Chinese by birth. The services brought everyone together in the name of Jesus. The people there disregarded all of their differences and joined together for fellowship and worship.


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I asked Ms. Chou why Chinese immigrants would go to the Chinese Church after coming to America. I had always heard about Chinese people being heavily persecuted for their belief in Christ in China. Ms. Chou explained: Once they come here, they all went to the Chinese Christian Church. But a few of them were already Christian in China. But I think because they immigrate to the United States, they don’t have too much community like they had in China. So they need a community for helping each other, so they went to the church. (Y. Chou, personal communication, November 9, 2013). The Chinese Christian Church showed me the bonds between the American and the Chinese culture. The people at the church did not have any form of segregation. The congregation expounded upon the difference in culture to broaden the worship experience. They also left room to allow those who did not speak Chinese to learn some of the language through


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the Chinese sermon, and vice versa. The Chinese people were able to come together as a group and join with Americans to create a new community, where people of both cultures could use their strengths to better the worship experience. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed getting to spend time within the Chinese culture. The people taught me to value others. They also taught me humility and service. The Chinese people are very warm and hospitable. They unselfishly give to others and make them feel at home within their community. They completely shattered all stereotypes that I previously had about them. The Chinese community had some of the best people I have ever met. The Chinese community taught me that America is a nation of different communities. These communities are made up of people from all walks of life and backgrounds. The Chinese culture benefits America by introducing new events and concepts like the Moon Festival and the Chinese language. It also benefits American culture by encouraging people from other cultures to join the Chinese community and share in the Asian heritage, as seen through the events during the Moon Festival. The Chinese culture is more than just stir fry and excellence in academics -- it is a lifestyle of servitude and hard work. America also benefits China by giving the people a place to live. The United States introduces a new form of government and a fresh start for Chinese immigrants. I thought that Ms. Chou had excellent insight into the relationship between the two cultures: Also, they realized if American people also learn Chinese language and Chinese culture, it is good for everybody to live in a multi-culture environment. Right? Because each culture has their own strength and each has its own weakness. We can give up our weakness and learn some new strength from another culture. So that’s their purpose. (Y. Chou, personal communication, November 9, 2013).


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The Chinese community is one of community, discipline, and compassion. I originally thought that the people would be cold and uninviting. Truly, the people of the Chinese community have great love for others. They desire to come together not only as a group of Chinese individuals, but also with the American community to share ideas and traditions. I loved getting to know each and every person within the community, and I will most definitely continue participating in events and visiting them.


THE CHINESE COMMUNITY

12 Â References

Chou, Yunjin. (October 11, 2013). Personal Interview. Chinese School in Lexington, Kentucky. Kelley, Michelle L. Tseng, Hui-Mei. (1992). Cultural Differences in Child Rearing: A Comparison of Immigrant Chinese and Caucasian American Mothers. Journal of CrossCultural Psychology, vol. 23 no. 4 444-455. Kentucky Chinese American Association. (2013). Chinese School. November 24, 2013. Retrieved from http://www.kycaa.org/ChineseSchool.html. Lexington Christian Chinese Church. (2013). November 24, 2013. Retrieved from http://www.lcccky.org/index.asp. Nan, Wang. (2013). Chinese Culture Thrives in the US. November 1, 2013. Retrieved from http://www.chinaculture.org/info/2008-03/24/content_129424.htm

The Chinese Community  

This paper was written by Lauren Huccaby for the Composing Community Project in CIS 110.

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