Today I ventured more deeply into a corner of Boston that I am not as familiar with. I work part-time at a couple of places and one of my jobs takes me all over Boston, so far, as far north as Cambridge, as far south as Quincy and as far west as Watertown. Today, however, I was right in the center of Boston, more specifically in Chinatown.
Although I have strolled through Chinatown before and have ventured there for bubble tea more than once, this was my first visit away from the commercial area. Today at my job I visited an apartment building that housed mostly Chinese-speaking residents. When our team arrived at the building we met up with three interpreters that would help us give our presentation.
During the presentation, it was clear that many of the residents (there were mostly only older folks in attendance) possessed very little knowledge of English. Our team made sure to bring handouts that explained everything in Mandarin. All of the flyers posted around the building and text on the immovable fixtures were also printed in Mandarin (and sometimes in English too).
Boston with its surrounding areas is very diverse, however, not uniformly so. While Chinatown obviously has a large population of residents from China, other areas have smaller communities that represent nationalities, languages, and cultures. For example, in Cambridge/Somerville, I used to walk through a Lusophone (aka Portuguese-speaking) community, which included signs out front for the auto body, restaurants, hairdressers and other establishments in Portuguese. Also, I know of a nursing home in Watertown that is predominantly filled with Russian speakers. My friends and I visited once and we saw the TV set in the lobby playing in Russian, signs were in Russian, and even the woman near the entrance greeted us in Russian.
While it is perfectly natural for us to stay within our own communities (if you have food, work, and entertainment there, this is totally convenient), I think it can be eye-opening to see how different things are just 20 or so minutes away from you. My Boston is not everyone’s Boston and it can be very interesting to see just how all of the little parts make a city what it is. If you’re ever bored in your city, Dear Reader, remember, you probably haven’t seen all of it yet.