Interviewer: Michael and Carrie Kline
Place of Interview: Concord Free Public Library
Transcriptionist: Nick Martin
Michael Kline: Okay, today is September 29th, what is it--. Wednesday. Beautiful day outside and it's a little after three in the afternoon. And my name is Michael Kline, Carrie Kline is here with me today. And, would you please say "My name is."
J. T. Hsu: Sure, my name is J. T. Hsu.
MK: And tell us your date of birth.
JH: June the 12th, 1945.
MK: Forty Five.
MK: Well maybe you'd start off and tell us about your people, who your people were, and where you were raised, where you grew up.
JH: Oh, okay, yeah. Well you know, I basically came here as an immigrant and I was born in China, 1945. And then I was--. I moved to Taiwan at three. Right, basically to escape from the civil war, okay and at that time there was a communist China and nation of China fighting pretty bad. So, and I was raised in Taiwan for twenty years until I graduated from the college and I moved over here and went to two graduate schools and earned some degrees there and I start my career here.
MK: What did you study?
JH: I studied double E to begin with.
CK: What is it?
JH: Electrical engineering, in short double E. And then when I came here I went to University of Houston for systems engineering, then after that I went to Purdue to resume my double E and then I started to become the first generation computer people: software development, developer.
MK: So you're a pioneer in software development?
JH: Yes kind of, yeah, at that our time in computer ages was storming. So it's very fun to join this and that--. You know, this opportunity probably only existed in US at that time. So it's very--. It's my privilege.
MK: So tell me how you came to be in Concord, then, what was your path to Concord?
JH: Sure, yeah, my migration path! Yes, first okay I--. When I graduated from Purdue University in Indiana my first job I went to Dayton Ohio for a NCR company. NCR is the company which does ninety percent of the cash registers at that time.
MK: National Cash Register?
JH: National Cash Register Company, that's called NCR, and they had the market share of 97 percent. They were dominant, more than IBM and digital equipment, anything like that. And at that time there were --. They realized the new age came, that they needed to switch to computer based cash register. So they started it and I was fortunately one of the people, the young people to hire for that purpose. Then I witnessed massive, massive layoff because of this technology change. Which in a way that I realized, I realize what the real world is very quickly that way.
MK: What do you mean?
JH: Because the technology changes and all the mechanical cash register that they did before got to go. They lost the competition edge, things like that, and they need a new computer people to build a new generation of cash registers. And with that background I was hired. To do that. Then again every Friday I just--. As far as I can remember almost every Friday I was there I saw my people, my colleagues around me, the older generations get laid off. They got pink slips every Friday. Bunch by bunch it is just life.
MK: And where was this going on?
JH: This was in Dayton, Ohio. Right, where the NCR headquarter is. And then after that I went to a small telephone company called Stromberg-Carlson which is a subsidiary of General Dynamics and I was in Florida for half a year. Then I got married. Then I moved to Schenectady, New York, which is for GE research center job. So and I was there for four years. Then I moved to, eventually moved to this area, in the greater Boston area. Where basically, this area has all five big mini computer companies in the world. Then as a computer person, it's like eventually, you know, you come to the mecca of this computer industry.
MK: There are five big computer companies?
MK: Which are those?
JH: Okay, if I remember correctly, okay Digital Equipment, Data General, Hewlett Packard, Prime Computer, I think there's another one. I don't remember now. Yeah, mmhmm.
MK: So you came to the mecca.
JH: Basically, yes! It's kind of you know, it's like my destiny! So after all this jobs eventually I settled down here for thirty years. Since 1980.
MK: And who did you work for? I worked first job was for Prime Computer in Framinghan, Massachusetts. And this actually decided that my wife worked for MITRE, no, MIT research company.
JH: MIT research in short. The official name is MITRE. That stands for MITRE - MIT research. So in Billerica(?) area so we kind of chose Concord as a midpoint for commute. So she and I basically drove like it would be twenty minutes for our work, which is pretty nice. That's how I settle here in Concord.
MK: And what year was that?
JH: That was 1980. Since then I live in Concord and never moved even still live in the same house. I moved in! I enjoy being here.
MK: Where do you live?
JH: I live in West Concord right now that's the address. Old Pickard Rd, 304 Old Pickard Rd.
MK: In West Concord
JH: In West Concord, you know ten minutes away from here.
MK: And you like it.
JH: Oh I love it, you know. And I raised my family here. I have three children. Now they are all grownups and every time we talk about this, this period of time, they appreciate it very much too. They say oh, I mean we love to, you know this is a nice town to grow up in. Nothing but good memory.
MK: Is your wife Chinese as well?
JH: Yes. We met in Purdue University. She has the same background as I have. We all came from Taiwan. She was born in Taiwan and raised in Taiwan basically but we all Chinese background you know. So we all, it's easy to understand, you know things like that and we got married in 1976.
MK: And she had a computer background too?
JH: Some. Most in other area, in artificial intelligence, in image processing area. That's what she is doing right now. Research work for Lincoln Lab.
MK: For Lincoln.
JH: Lincoln Lab yeah. It's a lab associated with MIT.
MK: Well, as an outsider, I might think of Concord as kind of a hard place to break into because--. Very old families here and--. You know what I'm trying to say?
JH: Yes, I understand that. In fact I found that it is a pretty good town for an alien, you know to come in. It is a very, I would say maybe conservative town here in New England. You look around you can see all of the downtown, you know, buildings still maintained for centuries the same way as they originally had. Very little commercials are allowed to move in. That's why we still have a very quiet and in a way prestigious town. In this area. But as one of the earliest, okay, foreign families to come in, we never felt any — you know - feeling being rejected or whatever we just--. I think the town it's just so nice, too, open to all people. And so the--. Like when we came in there was only two or three families that I know of in Concord, you know Chinese families. And so it is like a predominately white upscale suburb, you know, in the greater Boston area and our kids also said that to me. That they don't usually find any classmate in their background at all.
MK: They what?
JH: There were not, they didn't--. They couldn't find anybody else that is in their backgrounds because they were so, everybody mostly are just, you know, white people and things like that, upscale living standard, things like that, and but they still like it. I think that we mingled well with the people here.
MK: I'm trying to believe that!
JH: I don't blame you!
MK: I wish you'd tell me what really happened.
JH: What really happened is that basically we don't feel any difference. We, in our social life as well as, you know in every stage of our life raising our family here they were all basically born here, our first kid — our daughter was born back in Schenectady but she moved in with us, only — less than a year old. So basically, she along with two siblings, they were all raised here. Went through elementary school, middle school, high school, and eventually college of their choice. But they did very--. You know they did pretty good. And they never complained about being not accepted here.
JH: Yes everybody felt so, so good about this environment. So we join all kinds of activities here.
MK: Like what?
JH: Like baseball when they were young, before that they probably you know they did some kids' soccers, first thing they can learn, chase a ball around, that's about it, and then oh, the other stages they did--. I can recall them like in high school they were so much into the extracurricular activities such as the model UN. Ever heard about that?
MK: mmm mmm.
JH: That's pretty--. I think it is pretty widespread activity. Like they're doing model UN, model United Nations so they did all this things, you know presentations, debating, such as like a small United Nations, okay, among groups of their classmates, things like that. And my first two they liked it very much. Every semester they had a chance to travel to other colleges such as Harvard and Georgetown and to do on the national level and because of that my daughter now is a lawyer. She loves to do that!
MK: She's interested in international law?
JH: No, she's--. Her major is corporate law. And with her international background she studied four years of Chinese in Georgetown--. She went to Georgetown. And so she, you know, she got a foreign language certificate, a Chinese language certificate, that way. So I think that's a pretty good achievement on her own. When she was young we sent her - and all our kids also - to Chinese languages schools in this area — greater Boston area. Every Sunday they went there for two hours, from two to four.
MK: Where is there a Chinese school like that?
JH: It is everywhere. We have maybe dozens of those Chinese languages schools so mostly, you know, every big town, okay, here. Like Lexington or whatever. And these people--. These towns have a lot of--bigger Chinese population. And we kind of voluntarily form Chinese languages schools like that.
CK: Was that true--. I'm sorry.
JH: Mmm, go ahead.
CK: Was that true when you came?
JH: Yes, pretty much so, when I first came there were some. Not as many language schools around but now I see them more. Dozens. We're talking about maybe twenties, thirties, easily that way.
MK: In the Boston area?
JH: In the greater Boston area. They kind of, that's the way we can pass our heritage as well as our languages, cultures to our kids. And they, so they went there for nine years. Until the ninth grade, put this way. Based on just two hours per week, every Sunday like I said.
MK: But that enabled your daughter to keep up her Chinese language skills.
JH: Correct, Correct. And my other kids too. And she was the one who questioned me before we--. Back here. So why do I need to go to this school? What's this school about, okay? What's practical, you know, about this thing? And then we can't--. You know it is hard for the kids to understand but later on she went, she, like I said, she went to the college and on her own she pick up the language after realizing her background identity, all these things. So, you know, I'm happy that she--. That means she really know why now!
MK: Mmhmm, that's great.
JH: It is an interesting story.
CK: What about at home? Talk about language at home.
JH: Right. We speak, we still speak mostly Mandarin at home, you know, Chinese language. But usually that is happening to all immigrants' company, I mean families. Kids, the first kid probably speak more mother language to their parents. But then the second and third kind of get washed away because then the siblings talking with each other English, language they learn here. So their proficiency level like goes down that way! But my daughter still speak very fluent Mandarin.
MK: Your oldest daughter? Or your oldest child.
JH: Yes, my oldest child and my only daughter. My other two kids are not as good. Just like I said, that's the trend it goes. But we tried to--. First we tried to insist on speaking our, you know, mother languages before, but when kids grow up to certain level, they--. You know it is hard to insist on that because they are--. It kind of like discouraging them to communicate with us easily because of their problem, you know, their deficiency speaking that language. So it is getting harder, harder. Now they come back and they are--. No, we are speak English to each other! So that's the way it goes.
JH: Quite different, yeah, different from probably people--. Native or local people can think about. This kind of family background.
MK: So you have a thirty year long perspective, still living in the same house, of the same neighborhood.
JH: Same house, same neighborhood, yes.
MK: Tell me how West Concord has changed, especially with regard to more Chinese coming, the development of a Chinese American--. Chinese or Chinese American community. Now how would you describe all that?
JH: Okay, now before that, I'd like to expand a little bit from just West Concord to Concord area. Because West Concord is really relatively smaller area. And it is hard to single that out. In the Concord area, everything is like from the two to three Chinese American families when I moved in. Now we're talking about maybe close to a hundred. You know, that's like, we--. You know twelve years ago we're realizing the need of this community, our community life. Because we often came across each other without knowing the kids share the same school, high school, middle school, something like that. Families come in and sometimes we don't know. You know we say hey, you know, this might be a Chinese family, but we don't even know them. So we have, when the new families come in looking for the same family with the same background they couldn't find it. It is a lack of some kind of structure there so, I and another one, we founded a Chinese community--. This organization, we call it C4 in short, which stands for Concord Carlisle Chinese Club.
JH: --Carlisle Chinese Club. That's CCCC, that's in short, it is C4. Not the dynamite! Think about it! But anyway so in a way to facilitate our, you know, peoples' life here. To sort of, you know, to get to know people through this community, this club. And also to attract new people, new members who just came in to this area and need help. And so we think we can, you know, pass our experience here to them regarding that. So we did it pretty well. We had a very close relationship with this library so every year we have, we held like a Chinese New Year celebration here, here in the children department and with all kinds of, you know, programs related to Chinese culture. Like some activities such as, like Chinese music instrument performance, we had that one. It is quite different, and it attract a lot of people. Every time, just, it is a full house here.
MK: Not just Chinese but--.
JH: No, no. From outside, all the other, yeah, the local community. Not from Chinese but we are the core part who promote this to them, so introduce Chinese culture and heritage, you know, custom, and art and craft all this kind of thing to them. So that's how we do it. And for many years we've been doing this.
MK: Chinese music?
JH: Chinese music also, and yeah there was also a kind of many children program we do this kind of small art and craft things for the kids. They love it. So all kinds of things like that. Do Chinese fire cracker, of course it is a fake one, but it looks just like that! The kids love to do these hands on things. And also introduce Chinese calligraphy you know, writing their names, Chinese names in brush, with brush, upon that. So we designed the bookmark, Chinese bookmarks. For that year, you know the Chinese horoscope, you know twelve years, this year is the year of tiger. So every year for example, the tiger year, we did a Chinese bookmark with a tiger, Chinese painting, but it must have the animal of that year.
CK: Chinese pendant?
JH: Chinese painting, the book mark has these Chinese paintings on it, the picture on it, but for that year we look for an animal, that animal, the tiger, of Chinese painting to put on it, as a way to introduce this kind of custom to the local people. So that did pretty well, and for the kids they all love to have their Chinese name to put on and we like made up one for them every time I bet. So that's one of the programs which is pretty popular. So, that's how we did it.
MK: So what is the structure of the four C, do you have an office somewhere? Do you have--. How do immigrant people find you?
CK: And what do they need?
JH: Okay, I understand it, good question, really. Since we start the C4 idea to accrue the Chinese American families here together, but we're not restricted to that, we also have many members that like us, such as like some white people they adopted Chinese kids from China. And they also love to join us. And they were very nice, very open minded, and they want their kids to know their backgrounds and to learn their heritages, things like that. So they came to us asking for all this information, and we said yes we do have this organization if you guys interested, you know, you're welcome to join us, things like that. We did some activities also, like every July 4th there is a local activity called picnic in the park. With a park just two blocks away from here and this July 4th celebration we, C4, sponsored a stand there, selling some Chinese food which most people associate us with, as well as, doing some of these local activities to promote ourselves, to let people know we--. This organization exists in this town. So if you're interested, as long as you're interested in Chinese culture it doesn't matter you know--. You don't have to be a Chinese American family to join us. So we're a very open organization for that purpose.
MK: Is there an email address or some contact?
JH: Yes, the way we do this is that we don't have an official office here because we have a very low overhead and we basically, we're all volunteers from the Chinese American families here. Our families here are like mostly like middle class. We are mostly well educated. And we basically all have our jobs and a pretty good career here too. And so we volunteer on the side to do these kind of things. So we have some kind of simple organization. Also because of the overhead. So for example we don't have a very big structure. We have a president and we have a committee which helps to form the idea and to carry out these things. And a treasury. That's it. But it work out well for years. And it is still working well. This year I think that the president of C4 is the deputy curator here for this library, she is right next door!
MK: Is she a Chinese woman?
JH: Yes, very interesting isn't it?!
MK: What's her name?
JH: Caroline Nie. N-I-E. Nie.
MK: Caroline Nie?
CK: Well what sort of trepidations would a family have? Or what did you have coming to Concord?
MK: What kind of help do new immigrants need when they come here?
JH: Well I guess a lot of things, you know, almost everything are new. By my experience, when I first came here, I didn't know because I was not grew up here, right, I don't know the, for example, the school system. And I throw my kids into the school system! I don't even know it, how they run, how they work, you know, things like that! But we know that Concord has a very good school system and a good reputation. That's almost the most important reason that we chose Concord to settle — settle down there. And it worked out well, my kids all received good education and went to good schools, and good colleges after this. So that's one example. The other things like the community life here. We had no idea also, I had no idea, you know what kind of life I'm getting into. As the kids, okay, grew up here, I learned through them about what the whole life is. Because I know most of — our life here, based on--. Through our career development, job contacts, our professional friends, but not that aspect like our kids go through. I think that's probably more real.
MK: Becoming social beings with other--.
JH: Exactly, being--. Actually embracing the real life here. It's a full fledge of the life here. We came in as a professional. So we only know that part of the life. We don't know what the community life is, or the kids, things like that. Of course through thirty years, now I learn everything and plenty well, for example I probably be more interested in casting my vote every year, right, things like that. But some Americans don't do as far as I know, maybe too disappointed, whatever that is. But we feel we are part of this.
MK: And you need to be.
JH: We needed to completely exercise, you know, our right and our responsibilities as well. So that's what the C4 is about. We want to use this as a way to contribute to this community. To let them know our presence as well as to contribute some of our cultural, you know, background to them. To improve the understanding between different people.
CK: I wonder how it felt being a child having the role of educating your parents about the community. They were the pioneers I guess.
JH: Well, yeah, in a way through their lives here we had a chance to participate deeper, this community and this society. Else, we would probably only be on the professional level. Through them we know what kind of activity the school would have every year they have this annual parties, lawn parties, whatever. Lawn parties, okay, yeah in the summer. They have this almost like a festival and the kids go playing with that and they throw ball at the target so that their teachers will fall into the water! That kind of thing you know! We don't have that kind of things back in Taiwan! You are not supposed to do that! (Full-throated laughing.) It is kind of funny, right. And they did all kinds of sports activities. There's a very abundant sports and social lives here. My kids learned to do almost anything. They ski, they skate, they swim, they do baseball, they do soccer, they do track, anything. The chances they have here are unlimited. I think that's what America's dream is about, right? They have--. Their chances of being almost anybody they want to be.
MK: That's the dream.
JH: I guess that's the idea. You know, where we came from we didn't know, we didn't have this much opportunity around us for many reasons, especially for my generation, you know, because I grew up--. I was born in 1945 at the eve of the second World War ending. So and then post-war time when I grew up it was all pretty struggle, very tough time. You know everything, we were raised in a very poor condition. But our kids they have very different life. So that you can say you know that's--their blessed by that, this kind of opportunity provided here.
MK: I'm very glad that that's worked out for them that way.
JH: Indeed, indeed. My wife and me often talked and we say, you don't know how lucky you guys are actually.
CK: I wonder if people's feelings about Chinese are coming to another other side of the spectrum now that China has become such a superpower and Americans are concerned about their own jobs and so much being made in China. Does that affect how the Chinese in Concord are viewed and perceived?
JH: I don't know about that, okay, in terms of the Concords' view point on this. But, as a person with Chinese background I can tell you my feelings about this. Okay, of course the world moves on. Everything is changing every day so you can understand that. Now the way I see that, yes, I think the--. I think the oriental system or the Chinese political systems and the American systems, they are basically--. They are all compromising, trying, evolving, trying to find a way to make their countries better. So honestly I don't think there is a communism system there at all. You go to China you find it is way different. It is not something that we usually picture a communism country is about. And the so-called our capitalism system — whatever — if you call it that way. And we have very good welfare system, things like that, some are better than their system. So you're talking about socialism practicing--. Practicing socialism here. Maybe in some area better than them. And now thirty years ago Chinese government realized the diehard typical communism won't work, they gave up on that. But without losing their face: they don't want to publicly deny it. But all their--. The way they're running their system is basically following the American system here. So a few years ago I brought my kids to China, all through, especially last ten years, so they grow up they can appreciate those things. My son, once we went to Shenzhen, which is a neighboring town from Hong Kong, very close, and we went there and he look at that, he says you call this communist country? It is very different, it is just like New York City or any big city in the United States. It is very different but of course they won't be publicly denouncing it.
CK: But in a sense you went from being a very small minority here in Concord to representing a world majority, you know, that people have, I suppose, have a lot of feelings about it. And I wondered if they direct those feelings at you as a local citizen.
JH: Not me personally, but I can see that. Actually I would say it is almost none. But in terms of racial things, okay, profile or whatever that is, my kids mention to me also. That they, like my daughter, she says she was asked before, once, I don't remember exactly in Concord or in her college days in Washington DC. She was asked, "Where you from?" And she looked and says, "What do you mean where I'm from, I was born in New York." She says that people assume because you are looking, your appearance, you must be from outside. Must be from overseas, some other countries, because of your appearance, your race. There she catched a little bit, a little glimpse of the racial issue. But not, to me, I think it is not really that bad. It is not a bad racial question so to speak. Just to say that she was assumed, not a citizen here I guess! I think that's the implication. That's why she told me about that. And when they were very young, they asked, you know they didn't know anything about the real world, whatever that is. They talked--. Everything was so idealized. I told them admit it or not, this society this country, tried very, very, their very best, and they did very well in many areas, not to discriminating any race, any other people or whatever. But I said in this society there's still some existing there, people may not speak out, but some in their minds. It may take generations to eventually--. To move it away. But we know that. Because through the years I was here I encountered many situations like that or I heard like--. You guys know Howard Cosell, you probably know Howard Cosell.
MK: The commentator.
JH: Right, sports commentator, very famous one. He spoke something wrong, misspoke something racial, he was immediately removed. He probably was one of the top sportscasters. His career basically ended in that way. And many politicians, other things, in similar situations happened just like that. That means we know as a country, as a society, we know what's the right direction to go. But again these incidences keep happening. We know they are still in some peoples' minds, that's why they get punished when they speak out. But this is just the fact of life you have to understand the background, the history of this country, and it takes so many generations to go away. Education, you know, law, all these things can move the country in the right direction.
MK: Listening to Chinese music.
JH: (Laughter). I think that the more we understand the differences between people, between race, between culture then we are closer to the goal of being one, you know. One people. One country.
MK: So now there are around about a hundred Chinese families in the Concord--. West Concord area.
JH: Mmmhmm, yeah.
MK: Do you think they are generally enjoying the same kind of transition that your family did or do you think some of them are having a harder time or?
JH: I think that their lives are easier. The new families here will be easier this way because, because our society does move forward quite a bit. Thirty years ago, that's 1980, when I first came to the United States, that was 1969 when I stepped my feet on this land. I didn't quite realize that it was only a few years before that, that we had black--. African American had just had their right to vote. That was in the 60's. Six seven or six eight right? 1967 or '68 right?
MK: Well the civil rights act was passed, yeah.
JH: Right, exactly, that's what I mean. That they are really, you know they are, they get their equal rights so to speak, right, so to speak. In terms of voting is concerned right? I didn't realize it was so close because over in Taiwan, because of strong American media, you know whatever the things are, we were so much influenced by the Western culture. We thought everything was so ideal. We didn't even see these things. We knew John Wayne, I knew John Wayne, I knew Andy Williams before I came to United States. That surprised a lot of people here. But I didn't realize the African American even at that time was you know what do you call that?Underprivileged? So that tell you this. No, you know how long we been progressing since then. So now the families I think they are doing a lot better. They enjoy better lives here.
MK: Even than you did?
JH: Yes, yes. The society is more equal. Right, people are more equal, in a way. You may not--. You may disagree!
MK: I — I don't know.
CK: We don't know, you made it sound like it was perfect for you.
JH: Not perfect yet. I would say there is still some hidden things, like I said, I'd say maybe in peoples' minds. But overall speaking it is much better than forty years ago. That means we are moving forward. Are we there yet? I don't know! God knows! Right?
MK: We're where we are.
JH: We're working on it! That's very philosophical, yes.
MK: Wherever it is we are, that's where we are.
JH: We're working on it, put it this way. Just, my viewpoint on how this, on our how our society has evolved, how it has progressed. Did I answer your question right?
MK: Well there is one part of your question I don't know if he answered.
MK: She was talking about--. Many Americans feel that they have lost their--.
JH: Oh, okay.
MK: Manufacturing--. Especially manufacturing jobs to the Chinese Economy.
JH: Okay, I see.
CK: Every label says made in Taiwan or made in China.
MK: Made in China, Made in China.
JH: Okay, I know what you mean by that. Yeah, yeah.
MK: So she's talking about what I would call a backlash of feeling where people don't understand this.
CK: They're frightened.
JH: I understand.
MK: They're frightened and there are resentments that develop.
JH: There are insecurities.
JH: Exactly. Exactly.
MK: So what does this feel like from your side?
JH: Okay that's a good question, very good question. Sorry I just missed that.
MK: That's okay
JH: Anyway, okay. You know, you know, personally I don't feel they, that this society dumped that feeling on us. Okay, on people with Chinese background. I don't feel that way at all. And I knew that from, you know, watching evening news which I did every day. That sometimes they interview these people who are in financial instability. They talked about, you know, the manufacturing industry moved out outsourcing everything to China.
JH: India, or you know developing country right. And of course they have some bitter feeling about these things. But on the other hand the reporter also represent, report the flipside of that, which is very interesting. After interview the lady who represent, who we just talked about. And then the reporter asked her about, what do you think about the Walmart prices? Okay, do you buy from Walmart? Oh she said, "Yes, I do that every day." Okay, it's wonderful whatever that is. But then the reporter remind her that Walmart, most of the merchandise in Walmart are from China. Then so its like, it'll come together, you see what I mean! If you don't--. If these manufacturing--, manufacturers they'll move out. Then you won't have the Walmart merchandise at a low price. So it comes as a package. And on other hand, I think OK, it is not a really--. A country does something bad to another country. It is not as simple as that. It is just the way that in this modern economy everybody has to move forward. Every country has to move forward. Every industry has to move forward. Take GM as example. They didn't move forward enough, they fell behind. Right? But when I came here to United States, way back, Detroit is basically American logo.
JH: Detroit. No, they just owns the automobile industry. You don't even--. You know, don't even hear about any Japanese cars at that time. But then in 70's, 80's, they caught up. Now everybody knows Detroit is sad story. That's just the way it goes. But economy has its own law. It obeys its law. It has to go by that. This happened to every country. The problem we have here we shouldn't claim about other countries. What we need to complain is to say why didn't we move forward enough? Because these countries who took over your place, they also go by that law. If they don't move forward, they get abandoned too. So it is nothing to do with any specific country or people or race, whatever.
MK: It is the laws of economics.
MK: That you're saying.
JH: Exactly. So that's--. I don't know whether I answer your question in that regard, you know. But emotionally and personally I don't feel I get dumped on. But there were some cases you probably--. I don't know whether you guys know this or not, in 70's or 80's when Japanese cars invaded this country and started to take over many jobs here, Detroit automobile industry auto workers lost jobs. Massive layoffs. There was a very famous case. A Chinese, I don't know what if he's immigrant or he's just a Chinese American here in Detroit, he, you know, he get killed by two white auto workers--. Ex-auto workers. Brutally with baseball bat. It is a very--. I don't know if you remember that, it was a very famous case. In Chinese community we knew that particularly well because of these guys' background. They thought, okay these two people, it is a father and son, white people, they met this guy in the bar, they didn't know each other. They were so--. They just got laid off and they were so upset. They picked on him outside of the bar. Kill him with baseball bat. And they thought he was a Japanese -American or whatever. So they turned their anger into him. That's of course many years ago, right, you know. Nowadays I haven't seen anything like that lately. But it happened before, I guess that's what your question came from, right?
CK: You seem to have an amazing, positive attitude. That happened but, you're ready to move forward.
JH: Yeah, I guess that's the right way to doing that, you know, the country--. As I said, the country's moving forward in the right direction. Sometimes it may not be as fast as some people think, okay, or want it, alright. But I think it is in the right direction. Personally I still feel we, okay, this country has the broadest mind to accepting new people. From, you know, all over the world. We are immigrant country right, in a way, and we also embrace the new idea and welcome new people probably better than anybody else.
CK: Should we do that more?
JH: I guess it will, okay, the only problem--. The only thing people need to know this is that when we run through hard time, like a bad economics, we shouldn't turn it into a personal issue. Or emotional issue. And say because, you know, a lot of industries outsourced to overseas therefore you see them as enemies. It is nothing like that. It is the law of economics. So, that probably--. If we think this way we can avoid a lot of personal issues. This happen to all countries not only United States. Japan went through that also before, and Japan still in trouble, big trouble. And Taiwan is recently, they are going through this, this bottleneck also. Taiwan, and you probably know that, okay a lot of industries, Taiwan's manufacturing, they moved to China because of cheap labor there, bigger market. So Taiwan has to go--. Has to upgrade their industry to obey this economic law. Same as we are here. Lots of different stages. But the law is the same. That's what we need to do really to focus on what we can do to make ourselves indispensable. That's, just, you know, how I see it.
MK: How could--. What could Concord do to make life even more pleasant for immigrant groups coming in here to live and to make a new life here. What could this community do to make those people feel even more welcome.
JH: Well, from my viewpoint I think Concord has done already a lot. I said earlier that Concord is a conservative town in terms of commercial, that kind of things. Concord doesn't want McDonalds to come in for example. We don't have a McDonalds here. When my kids were young, we need to go to Maynard, the next town for McDonalds! But other than that, you know, Concord has a lot of conservative land and they want to keep the town in the same lifestyle for, you know, many years. But Concord in terms of dealing with immigrants, other new people, I think Concord--. I have nothing to complain about. They are very nice. And every year we still have these things--. Many other, many activities to introduce new foreign things. For example, we talk about a Chinese musical instrument. We had a concert also here. Not in the children department, in the main lobby, for all adults, open to the community here. Chinese music, a concert. We a couple years ago we invited Ha Jin to come in. Ha Jin is a famous Chinese American who is, he's still teaching in BU — Boston University. He is a very famous writer.
JH: Ha Jin. H-A . Jin. J-I-N.
JH: Ha Jin, Jin spelled is J-I-N.
MK: Har Jin?
MK: H-A-R J-I-N?
JH: H-A — that's his last name. Ha.
MK: Oh, H-A?
JH: Yeah. His first name is Jin, J-I-N.
MK: J-I-N, okay.
JH: Right. He won national book award things like that, he had a very famous, very good reputation. And he, as a Chinese American he also wrote a lot of stories about our lives, so to speak. And Concord library invited him over here to give a talk. It was a full house also. People are interested. The white people, not just the Chinese American. So things like that Concord did a lot, has done a lot. And are still doing it. We have--. I think a year or so ago we had a Chinese month, a full month of Chinese activities held here, you know, things like that. Thanks to our, what you?
JH: Library, yes.
MK: I'm going to have to slip out, I wanted you to talk to Carrie about where Chinese people meet these days.
MK: Are there temples here now? Are there churches? What sort of gathering places are there where just Chinese people meet? But I'm going to uh —
JH: I understand, sure, sure.
MK: But thank you very much.
JH: Thank you, glad to talk to you.
MK: Oh yeah, I should take those off!
JH: You can't go!
MK: She thinks of everything.
JH: Good helper!
MK: Well, she's more than a helper, I'm the helper!
JH: [laughter] Okay, quite interesting.
CK: Okay, where do Chinese people get together?
JH: Yeah, we get together, in fact we have also pretty tight community fiber here. We are, you know, we--. Maybe due to the same cultural background or whatever. So we get together on an individual basis as well as around the C4. That we talked about — the club we talked about. And--.
CK: How many does that involve?
JH: Okay, yeah for example in the C4, we have--. Usually we hold four activities every year. Like at Chinese New Year we have a New Year Eve gathering. Most of the time in somewhere of volunteer's family — you know big house. Somebody own a mansion and we all went there. Okay! And so for that purpose and also July 4th we talked about it, we sponsor an activity and we got all these volunteers and it is like a big party for us so and Chinese new year celebration here in the library. And things like that and what else do we do? So that's the activities around C4, okay. And in terms of the church whatever, we have a church, a Christian church by Route Two there in Lexington. Okay it is quite big church on a hill. But we don't have, I don't think we have many churches like that.
CK: Like what, what is this one like?
JH: That's a church for Christians. But I don't know what branch of it — Methodologist or whatever — I'm not into that, I don't know either.
CK: But that's somehow Chinese?
JH: It is for Chinese community so most of the Chinese Christians go there.
CK: And services are held--.
JH: Services are held in Chinese languages by Chinese pastors, you know, things like that.
CK: In Mandarin or?
JH: Mandarin and English. They have live translator, translation there also for, because our younger generation, a lot of them don't speak good Chinese. It is kind of washed away even if they are exposed to some. Okay, doing their growing time.
CK: In school?
JH: In the Chinese languages school.
CK: But not public?
JH: They pick up--. No, there's no public community--. No, opportunities for them to speak more. Only in the languages school or in the family. Even in the language school they speak to each other English. It is kind of funny! Sometimes we pick up a kid and how come you come to Chinese languages school and he still speak English! So but it is like, we are like isolated islands, every family is an isolated island in terms of language against the whole society. It is a big ocean! You don't have many chances to win. That's how it goes. So and--. So church wise there are not that many but we have a big church here, which basically service most of the Christians here. There's some small groups I heard, you know, bible studies in people's home.
CK: What about non-Christian faiths?
JH: We have some Buddhism temples around here. I think of one in probably in Woburn, okay, but I was--. No, I'm not involved in that either. So I'm not that religious so to speak! So, I guess that's probably is everything I know about the religious needs here.
CK: Do most families integrate and go to church with white people? Or do mostly do they go to that Chinese church?
JH: Some do. Some do go to the local community churches with white people or things like that. Or, you know, or wherever, local. I think majority of the Chinese Christians go to Chinese churches. Even if it is further away from where they are. They drive longer.
CK: Why do you think that is?
JH: I think it is just for the language because the language they use there it is easier to, for the immigrants to follow, to identify with, you know. And like I said, from the ministers or the church people they all Chinese. For example, the Minister they some in Chinese language mixed in with Chinese culture so everything we can identify with is easily that way. You talk about Chinese joke! So that's just, I think it is identity issue.
CK: Identity issue.
JH: Mmhmm. Basically it is who we identify with. Nothing bad sense. Just from your culture, or your historic background, whatever. Your custom. You know. Like my family, we still eat Chinese food most of the time, in our family. You know, we subscribe Boston Globe as well as Chinese newspaper.
CK: Chinese Newspaper from?
JH: From local here, I think New York City, yeah they, so, we subscribe that, we read two newspapers. The Chinese paper report more Chinese news, so, and also they cover local news here too. So, they have many pages.
CK: Local news out of New York?
JH: Yeah, national, you know, yeah exactly, not New York local news in the way that we have 0ne page of New York because New York has a bigger Chinese population. We also have one page for Boston. Okay. I think on east coast I don't think there is other cities covered there. But we also have a national news, I mean national news here in America. What Obama said, you know, what Congress said, that kind of things, okay. And we have a few, several pages dedicated to what happened in Taiwan and what happened in China.
CK: That's daily?
JH: Daily. So we have a broader expose to what happen in the world.
CK: And--. I'm sorry.
JH: Boston Globe won't cover that much.
CK: Of the world?
JH: Of the world. No, only when something really, really, really big happen in Taiwan maybe says they have a short article about, maybe this congressman fight in the congress! They throw rocks at each other, whatever! That's a big, big joke!
CK: And your kids, do they read the Chinese newspaper too?
JH: My daughter can do that. Not as good as we do. My sons they can't. They're lost in the wash!
CK: Well it sounds like there are quite a few people coming in who aren't speaking English yet. Is that correct?
JH: Well, actually, ok, let me put it this way. In my understanding the older generations, okay, maybe these generations a couple generations older than me, when they came to the United States, they work as--. They came as a worker, a wetback, you know they were, okay, mostly very little educated. But starting my generation or maybe ten years before me, we came to the United States well educated. Usually our average education or our average income is better than the average people here.
CK: Here. Are we talking Concord?
JH: Concord or United States. National standard.
CK: So what's the story in Concord with the community now?
JH: We all are, mostly I would say received at least a master degrees at least or PhD's. My wife is a PhD in double E.
CK: And the new folks?
CK: The new people?
JH: Basically the same, we all have the same background. For a while my personal situation I have to get a--. I have to have a BS degree before I can get a license to--. Allowed to come to United States to study abroad by our law. So you know we are already screened a bunch. So you know if else--. There are people that from China, I know some, they came here just as a worker or whatever things are, okay, through different channels. And they are more like blue collar people. Like people who is fixing my house right now, okay. So that's two kind of backgrounds here. But for the middle class professionals we--. Usually we are very well educated.
CK: So is there a need for classes? English as a second language?
JH: Actually not for us. Not for my, you know, education background. But for the people who came as a blue collar worker, yes they need. Some have very little language training. So as a result they can only work within the Chinese community for living. They can only communicate in Chinese with their Chinese customers so that is why they get stuck there.
CK: And the least education you have the harder it is to learn a new language often times, to be back in school you know, if you're not use to school.
JH: Absolutely, absolutely. And for our background because we all learned, like my situation, we learned six years of English in middle school and junior high. And then in college we--. Some of our text books are all in English so we somehow we, through this we prepared, we are better prepared for this country, you know--. Being here. But without going through this it is tough.
CK: Are there--. Do people have the programs they need here in Concord?
JH: I haven't heard anything about that, like this kind of like a English as a second language.
End of Disc 1
JH: They call it ESL right, something like that. I know that there are some other towns in Boston you know they offered those things to people who needed it. And one of the, my contractors just about a month ago he registered and wrote in to one of these classes. He asked me to help because he can't speak English to get him into that program. So I help him and then later on I follow up. I says "How did that go?" He says, "Well that class, that is not for me." He didn't elaborate. I don't know. You know, he knows some English but he just doesn't use much. So I says you just keep mingle with people here. That's the best way to learn language. You don't--. If you always talk to Chinese in Mandarin you never master a language that way! So that's the way it goes.
CK: Good stuff. This has been great. Is there anything else that we should talk about?
JH: No, no, no. I think it is very good to have a chance to talk to you guys. I think I'm benefited also by this interview.
CK: Well good. You have a wonderful way of putting it all together in words.
JH: I hope so! Thank you! I hope so!
CK: Thank you!
JH: Very nice.