September 11 Digital Archive

Henry Ye

Title

Henry Ye

Source

transcription

Media Type

interview

Chinatown Interview: Interviewee

Henry Ye

Chinatown Interview: Interviewer

Lan Trinh

Chinatown Interview: Date

2003-03-11

Chinatown Interview: Language

English

Chinatown Interview: Occupation

New Life Center

Chinatown Interview: Interview (en)

Q: Today is March 11, 2004, I am sitting here with Henry Ye of True Light Church on Worth Street in Chinatown. Let’s begin by having you tell us a little bit about where you are from.

Ye: Well, I was born in China, Canton, and then I went to South America for six years, and then I end up here in New York.

Q: Wow, okay, [laughs] that’s very fast. Okay, we have to, we have to back up. You were born in, in Canton. Can I ask you how old you are?

Ye: Well, at that time I was thirteen, when I moved out of China.

Q: And this is in what year?

Ye: Um, 1982.

Q: ’82. Why did your family decide to leave China?

Ye: Well, my family, um, actually, more, my sister’s family already is in Central America, so we just migrated there to join them. And China, of course, have less of opportunity I guess in terms of better economic situation and you have less, um, choice, of life.

Q: Do you remember much of your childhood in China?

Ye: Ah, yeah, a little bit, I think, um, what I can really remember is that I came from a very poor family, and peasant family, and there was always lack of food, and lack of money, and I think that South America probably have a better opportunity because I see my sister doing well, so we decided to all go to Central America.

Q: And how, ah, your sister was already living---

Ye: Yes.

Q:---where in Central America?

Ye: Panama.

Q: Okay, so she legally sponsored you to Panama?

Ye: Yeah, yeah. My brothers, and all my sister and brother are already out of China.

Q: And you went with your parents?

Ye: My parents actually they stay behind for a little bit, and then my mom also went to Central America.

Q: Well, so how did you feel as a thirteen-year-old? Did you want to leave China?

Ye: Well, thirteen years old, as you say, you know, it’s not that I have a choice. I just feel like going to somewhere else, it’s like a trip. You don’t really know how far is that trip until you get there. So, for me at that time I don’t really have, um, any feeling, this is my brother going, so I just follow him, and it’s just like going shopping. You don’t know what will happen, but I know that I will probably have to go for a long time, you know.

Q: And did you have any impression of, of what Panama was like?

Ye: Not really. They just say that that place don’t have winter, the four seasons the same, hot, you know.

Q: And did you speak any Spanish at this time, before you went?

Ye: Um, not, not really.

Q: And how was that, getting there, and not speaking the language at all, did you have a difficult time adjusting?

Ye: Yeah, actually it was pretty, pretty hard. Because at that time, when I was in China, I was in school. But then, when I get to Panama, of course I don’t speak Spanish, I only speak Chinese, and this make it kind of hard for me to go to school because, in that area they don’t really have a bilingual program, like us, here. So it kind of hard for me to fit in, and I tried to attend school, but I couldn’t catch up, so I withdraw, and I, stay out of school for two years, just learning Spanish with, ah, neighbors, you know.

Q: So how long did it take you to feel, to become comfortable in Spanish that you can communicate with people?

Ye: Well, after a year and a half, I feel much better, and because I still young, at that time I’m thirteen, so learning Spanish is not that hard, um, that age. So a year and a half later I feel pretty comfortable talking to native Panamanian, who was born there. And after that I feel comfortable and now I decide to go back to school.

Q: And you didn’t want to go back to China?

Ye: No, because my whole family is there already. It’s not I have something to return to. And, I feel, after a year and half, I feel pretty comfortable living in that new environment, so I have decided to stay.


Q: And is there a Chinese community in Panama, you can, um, you have Chinese friends there, are there Chinese stores, food---

Ye: Ah, yeah, they have a Chinatown actually in Panama City. It’s very small, very, it’s only like two streets, but they have Chinese restaurants, and Chinese store. In terms of friends, I think I have more Panamanian friends than Chinese friends, because all the Chinese, unless you live in Chinatown, it’s all spread out all over the place, so you don’t, you don’t really have much chance to communicate with other Chinese except when there’s a big holiday celebration and you come together as a Chinese community, in one of the Chinese association, but other than that, just have your schoolmate and classmate. But most of them are Panamanian, you know, born in Panama.

Q: And you didn’t feel outcast? It was comfortable, I mean, after you learned to speak the language you, you feel comfortable living there?

Ye: Yeah, I, I really feel good. Actually the school that I went, um, the junior high school that I went, actually there is only one Chinese, which is me. And they treat me pretty well, and most, most of the classmate and schoolmates treat me well, and they see someone very different, but they, they also very adaptive, and they also welcome me into their circle I would say. So, I felt good living there and having, you know, them as friends.

Q: And then, how long did you stay in Panama?

Ye: Well, I stayed there for, like, six year. Yeah. I attend school and then work, you know, for approximately six year.

Q: And then how did you---you came to America after that?

Ye: Yes. And then I came to America to continue my education. I felt that in Panama it’s, it’s so, I have all my family there, but, ah, I try and look for something more than that, and Panama is a small country, and opportunities there are limited. I would say, um, so I wanted to, higher education, you know, and I wanted to go to college, so I came here to attend college, and try to learn something else.

Q: Where was that? Where was the university that you went to?

Ye: I went to City College, CUNY. You know, City University of New York.

Q: Why did you choose that school? Why did you choose New York City?

Ye: Well, I think New York City is more diverse, in certain term of population, in term of language, and I, I love ah different, learn different kind of languages, so I think New York will provide me the opportunity to meet others, non-Hispanic speaking, Spanish-speaking, or non-Chinese-speaking classmate or student, so that’s why I chose New York.

Q: And did you learn any English in Panama at this time?

Ye: Not really. Actually, I have studied some English, but not like you can have a basic conversation. You probably know some words, English words, but because that environment did not provide the opportunity to practice, and so it is kind of hard to say I, I know English. I probably know some words, but not really English.

Q: So you’re nineteen years old, and you came to New York City speaking Chinese and Spanish and very, very little English, and you started university on your own.

Ye: Yes.

Q: That difficult?

Ye: Yeah, it is very difficult. Actually when I came and I went to enroll in college right away, it happened that college in this kind of, because of English level, it’s kind of very far behind, and I felt that if I go to college in that moment it probably going to waste a lot of money, um, because you’re foreign student, and you have to pay double---you have to waste a lot of money to just learn ESL (English as a Second Language) in college. So I decided to go to a high school first, and to learn some English, and so I ended up in high school again, not just learning English, but I took other subjects, and I graduated from high school in two year. And after that, and I went to college. So I have two year preparation before I go.

Q: Did you feel strange, as a nineteen-year-old in high school? Although you look young, I think you look young for your age.

Ye: Yeah. Well, it’s kind of strange, yeah. But, the high school I went is the Lower East Side Preparatory High School, they only take student seventeen and up, and with junior high or high school graduate diploma, and so they can help you to adjust in this community environment, so it kind of make it easier on me. A lot of those students I know is from different part of the world, and their age is probably seventeen, eighteen. It’s not much younger than me, so I, I feel um, comfortable being part of that school.

Q: Did you have any dreams of coming to America? What, what did you want to be?

Ye: Well, you know, in nineteen years I don’t really have much dream except that you want to, um, get yourself little bit more knowledge, get yourself some more higher education. And I don’t really know at that time where I will be ten year later or what I will end up doing ten year later, but all I know that I need to go to college and finish college and so that I can have more opportunity. But what kind of opportunity, I don’t know.

Q: Your parents [coughs] excuse me, your parents ever give you suggestions, or any pressure to become anything in particular?

Ye: Not really. My parent themselves are uneducated people. In China, my mom never attended school. She is illiterate. And my father, I think he only attended up to second grade. So they themselves don’t have the opportunity to attend school, and that’s something that also help me to understand how education is, can help, when I say it’s important. They don’t really give me any pressure that you have to be lawyer or doctor or anything like that, but just that, if you want to study, you go study, and as long as they don’t stop me, then that’s support already.

Q: So who did you live with in New York City, you come here by yourself.

Ye: Yeah, I, I come here and I have friends. I live with my, my friends, and I stay here and I, I, go to school, and it’s not like I have a base here, because as you know, students come here all by themselves.

Q: Did you live in Chinatown?

Ye: Yeah, actually when I came here I lived in Chinatown. Yeah, I lived in Christie Street, Christie and Grand Street.

Q: So this is, what year are we talking about, by the time you arrived?

Ye: I guess 1989, yeah. It’s a long time ago.

Q: Yeah, so Chinatown was a very different place then. Were you, were you scared coming here? What, what, did you think about Chinatown?

YE: Well, in that time, here, in Chinatown very different compared right now. In that time, actually now, in the late ‘80s, and early ‘90s, there a lot of gangs in Chinatown, and you have seen a lot of young people stand on the corner as a group, and pretty, pretty scary at that time. And I do feel that Chinatown is like a cemetery in that moment because there is so much killing and robbery, and the young people seem they don’t have motivation to go to school and do better, and I just feel that they have no future.

So cemetery is the word I keep inside in my mind at that time, that Chinatown don’t really have much hope, if they don’t change.


Q: But as a young man here alone, that’s often how a lot of young men join gangs because they’re very alone and they don’t have a family, and they don’t have support. How come you were not attracted to join a gang?

YE: Well, actually, I, I thought about it, actually when I was in Panama, I was, was not a straight-A student as well, I kind of live in the very poor, ah, neighborhood, and so it’s very complicated, and there are a lot of gangs that live in that neighborhood, but then when I come to America my aim, my goal is to have better education and better equip myself. But I think that the best thing is that before I came, I become a Christian. This has a lot to do with your question. So when I came to America I already came with that Christian faith, and that’s---I read Bible, it teach you, you know, how to be good, no killing, no harming other people, you have to help people, and so I also go to church in Chinatown.

And I think it make a difference, because the church community kind of tell me what is good. And, but of course, all my classmate, or schoolmate in the community tell me what is bad. So I, I have a choice. So this way I know what is good and I know what is bad, and I was able to choose between good and bad, and so I choose good, rather than join a gang.

Q: Is your family Christian also?

YE: Ah, no, actually, my parents, sister and brother, they’re not Christian. But some of my niece or nephew, after I become Christian, I share the gospel with them so they become Christian.

Q: At the time you grew up in China, religion is not really, ah, you can’t practice it in public so much, so did you get a lot of your views on Christianity during your time in Panama?

YE: Actually, yeah, in China, I don’t really know much about religion, because as I said, only thirteen years old, and all my parents do is to worship their ancestor with incenses and from time to time---But when I went to Panama, is, this is free country, since the religion is Catholic-based, religious country, and I see my neighbors go to church, and like, every Sunday, and I start having curiosity in the beginning and say, why they go to church and dress out all nice and go to church, and ---So I start kind of questioning them, what is the benefit going to church? And so they kind of explain to me, that, um, well, one, one thing that they said was that you can marry in the church, and with a nice gown and dress up.

So that’s the whole idea that started as a whole. One day if I want to get married in the church, I have to be in the church. So that’s how I started going to the church, with my neighbors, with that mentality, hopefully marry in the church one day. Um, not very particular how a religion is focused or anything like that. After I’d gone for a couple of year, and I realized church is more than that. That they tell you how to behave as a moral character, and more moral person, and that really have a lot impact on me.

Q: So you’re saying by the time you came here, because of your religious faith, you came here with much more of a, um, a grounding in yourself, and that you, you were motivated to study and to do good, and that steered you out of trouble. You didn’t want to join a gang, by the time you got to---

Ye: Yeah, I, I, definitely say that that is true. I know that as far as my friend, that they leave school, and they drop out, and they don’t want to continue, because there’s no mental support from their parents or from their family. But to me, I don’t have support from my parent or my family as well, but I do have support from the church, um, we call them brother and sister and they encourage me, and when I am down, when I needed help, they kind of encourage me and help me out.

And I think it’s, it’s my faith that can help me keep going, because really it’s study two year English and you go to college, it’s very, very difficult in terms of that you have to, really check every word in the Chinese and English dictionary. So, say if a native American student spend two hours studying, I probably have to spend six hours studying because of my language and limitation.

But because of my faith, and because of Christianity and believing in God, I always pray, and every time I have exam, I pray, and whenever I encounter difficulties, I pray, and pray God to help me, and that really help me a lot. And when I have struggle, and encounter some difficult situation in life, and I also depend on God to help me. So that really is, is that energy behind my life, and that help me to keep going and keep moving on.

Q: And what did you study at CUNY ?

Ye: I studied psychology, ‘cause I want to know a little bit more about myself. I find myself like a mystery. Sometime I don’t really understand why you think that way, or, why you make that kind of decision. So I really want to discover a little bit about me, and so, what---it’s why I am who I am, and wanted to learn a little bit about me.

That’s how it started, but after I study for awhile and I kind of realize actually psychology not can, not only can help me, but can help other people too, and so that’s why I stick with the subject and graduated with that major.

Q: And after four years at CUNY, what was your first job?

Ye: Actually, a little bit before I graduated, I applied for a job in Chinatown YMCA, just to work as case planner in the preventive program, which is to help family who got in trouble with ACS , Administration for Children’s Service, and the Center for Children’s Services, or a family that have a problem with the family courts, or families that are at risk, or their kid had dropped out, or their kid is in borderline, they try to join the gang or stay in school.

So that is kind of something that I, I interested in, because I was there a couple of years ago, and now, seeing other kid, not going to school, wandering on the street. And I just want to help them, and help them to understand life has more than just have fun on the street. You can do something more than that. And helping the family to stick together, work together. So I started that, as, as a um, preventative case planner in Chinatown YMCA.

Q: I know that you didn’t come to New York as an immigrant, but in many ways you are an immigrant in America, but yet you don’t seem very typical because most immigrants come here and they, they work hard, they study hard and they want to make lots of money. Why, what do you think is in you that you want to be a social worker, as you said, at very young, also, to want to give back so early.

Ye: Yeah, I think it’s a very good question. You’re right. A lot of immigrant come here and then just want to study something that will make money, like finance or computer science, or electrical engineering. I think it’s very normal because they came from a very restricted, poor environment. But myself, also I came from that kind of environment, poor, restricted, and when I come to America I just wanted to learn more and educate myself more.

But at the same time, behind my, my mind, I also want to be rich. I wanted to be making money too. But because going to church, and I see that people in the church help others freely, unconditionally, without any conditions. That, because they help you it’s n to because you will pay them, they help you because you need it. And they feel good about helping others, and also what the Bible teach you. It’s rather, it’s better giving than receiving. And so that also have something to do with my religion background, and that really taught me that money is not everything, but helping people and make people happy, yourself will be happy as well. And some, something money cannot buy, which is happiness.

So I, I kind of realized that helping people and not really making a lot of money, but my heart and my life I feel rewarded, or awarded, because seeing a family broken, and now it’s the repaired and all together again, and I think that is more, more than money can buy. And that’s why I, I feel good just to do what I do.

Q: And your family supports you, in doing this? They never give you pressure to send us lots of money? Send home lots of money? Take us out of China?

Ye: No, actually my family never gave me any pressure, because they all already out of China. I have brother in Panama, brother, brother and sister in Panama, I have brother in Spain, and I have a sister in Florida. They’re all over the place. They’re all out of China. Beside my father, my father don’t want to go out. He like his old hometown. But still I think it’s good for him, he know his neighbors and everything, and we respect that, we respect his decision, so really I have no pressure, they ask me for money or anything like that, because I’m the youngest, so they don’t really expect me too much. You get it? I think that’s a, a good deal. You could have older brother, older sister, and they all helping the parents, supporting the parents, and I’m sort of like burden-free, you know?

Q: So your first job out of school was at the YMCA in Chinatown, where you worked mainly with young people you said?

Ye: Primarily it was with family that have children, that like I say have, either have problem with the ACS, because of cultural differences and language barrier, they discipline their child and trigger the school or counselor to call Administration for Children’s Service, because they think that there’s a risk of child abuse and child neglect, and so that’s (how) we’re involved, and most of our case come from ACS, referred by ACS, and the criteria is that you, you have to have children in your home, and we work with them, because that’s what preventive mean, to work with family, family that have young children.

Q: Well, give us an example of a case, ‘cause I, as a Chinese growing up in America I know that there is a lot of, sometimes misunderstandings between the way Americans interpret what is abuse in the Chinese families. So give us something that you saw a lot that perhaps the way Chinese parents discipline their kids, but American teachers may think the kids are being abused at home.

Ye: Well, I, I think one example is in China, I also came from China, and I also come from, I was brought up by parent, and I know in China, when your parent beat you, is because they love you. They correct you because they care about you. That’s the Chinese immigrant’s mentality and philosophy. And there’s just no such law that you hit your child and you are punished and someone will call the police or call the ACS. In China there’s no such, they don’t have that system yet in that time. It mean that your children is under your authority, and that your responsibility, if you don’t discipline them, and in the future they become a bad person in society, then the fault is in the parent, so that’s why the parent will hit them or discipline them. And when you say, hit that mean physical punishment, like that, they probably hit them with a bamboo stick, and try to correct them, and try to help them to, to avoid doing, continue doing bad things.

For example, like, there’s a family that come to America, and one of the child does not want to go to school, because they think school is too hard, too difficult, and they don’t speak the language, and they constantly make fun of him. And so he decide not to go to school. So the father, knowing that child not going to school is very young, he is only thirteen years old, if not going to school have no future here in America. You don’t speak their language, you don’t speak English, you’re not going to school, and that’s against the law as well. So of course this law part they might not understand, but they do understand that they want and hope the child can go to school and learn English and have a better life, rather than work hard like them in factory or in the restaurant, and they want the child to do something better than that.

But that child not going to school, for the father will discipline the child in the sense that he sort of hit the child, smack the child, and so of course the child, report it, because his father’s---because he’s talking a friend, the friend tell the teacher, and the teacher call ACS, so ACS come and they want to remove the child, but then that’s how we intervene and try to provide service to this family and try to understand what had happened. And so, because we provide the language, translation to the ACS worker, and we got a lot of ACS worker don’t really speak Chinese. And we talk about like five, six years ago, and still uncommon for Asian to get into ACS to work.

So, and we help them to understand the culture differences, and the father want to help the child, but then the law says you hit your child, it’s wrong, and that’s why we want to remove your child, and so that’s how end up in the ACS system, because someone reported the incident to the ACS. Which I think is, you know, each country have their own law, and each have, have their own rule. Um, the country that they’re living, right here in U.S., have the law to protect the children, of course they have the right to do what they have to do, but in terms of the parent, they don’t really understand the law, so what’s missing, is the education component to the parent. So that’s where we step in to educate, like what we call parenting skill, or (?) parenting skill training. Try to educate parent, what, the way that they deal with their children in China is not going to work in America, and if you use the same style, strategy, a way to discipline your child, and here in America you will get into trouble with the law.

And that’s how this family start understanding and what that meant, so they need, they have corrected the action, and they say that understand, we care about our child, we love our son, but physical discipline our child is against the law, and so they don’t want to do it again. And they want us to provide service to the family, talk to the parent, talk to the kid, and try to educate both side about where they come from, and it’s in the parent expectation and the kid’s struggle. So because the communication, they not going through, so parent do not really understand the child have so much pressure and have so much trouble, and the school tried to communicate, tried to understand. When the parent, just see the child not going to school is wrong. So it’s a matter of communication, and that’s one of the example cases.

Classic, because a lot of family even now a days, still have that problem. You see, this year thousands of new immigrant come into this community, but there’s no education going on every day, and so people need to be educated to solve this problem.


Q: Do you think there’s a big difference in, say, an immigrant family comes to a place like Chinatown, as opposed to more outside in a suburb, where there’s not a big Chinese community? Is it easier for them to assimilate into American life, coming to a place like Chinatown first?

Ye: Well, from my experience, I think Chinatown sort of is the first stepping stone, it, it mean it will be easier for them to adjust, because the community speak the language, and when they go to do shopping, they could shop the food that they want, and find the Chinese food, and also in terms of transportation, it’s limited, instead in Chinatown, you can just walk, in walking distance. And so they can adjust a little bit better.


In terms of kid who going to school, they have, let’s say bilingual or ESL (English as a Second Language) classes, that will help the kid to catch up even though they don’t speak English when they come in, and that will help them to learn faster in a sense. But there’s also one problem living in, let’s say, a community like New York City, in Chinatown, is that housing is an issue. There are limited housing. More and more people come, but the building pretty much stay the same, and so, where do people go, just pack into different family. So in terms of like, one apartment, you have one family of four members, now, because your aunt migrated and have no other place to live, then you just pack into that family, and so now you have, let’s say, eight members living in two bedroom apartment, it’s an overcrowded situation. So that’s the only disadvantage.


But going to out of state, they say, you know, Chinese go out of state because they see New York City is the state, and what is outside New York City is out of state. And as you know the word “China,” China is the center of the country, or central country. Everything else outside of China is foreign, it, you know, foreign country. So at the same time, our experience that, if an immigrant come to the U.S. and right away they, say move to a suburb, they will have a much harder time to adjust, first as you know some of the suburb like New Jersey or Connecticut, you want to go to supermarket, buy, buy grocery, if you don’t live next to a supermarket, you have to drive.

So a lot of immigrants they don’t have driver’s license, they don’t even speak the English to go and test, take a test and get a driver’s license. And driving a car is sometime challenging for just a peasant from China, not even know probably how to ride a bicycle and then now you ask them to drive a car. And for kids, trying to get them in school, there is let’s say, majority of them, let’s say, let’s say, Caucasian, I mean, Caucasian, and also this is a difficulty because not every school have the ESL program or bilingual program, and so, and if they migrate here and then jump into school, I think it’s kind of hard, and then myself, I come, I went to Panama, I jump into school, and then guess what, I have to withdraw, and stay out for a year and a half, try to learn the language and then I go to school. It’s a similar experience. A lot of those family that I know is that they leave their kid behind in New York City, they go to work in out of state because of job scarcity, limited job, so they left the kid behind, with family, or sometime friends, and they go out to work and support the family.

But why they don’t take their children with them, when I ask them, because it’s hard for the children to go to school there, because the system, the school system where they have. And so it’s very, very difficult. It challenging for the family. Especially in Chinatown. The family, immigrant family that come here, they face many, many different kind of challenges.


Q: So from what you see, say, the percentage of immigrants that come to Chinatown, how many of them really stay here long term, or is it once they get the language and work skills, do they move out?

Ye: Well, from, like I say, from what I have seen for the past ten or fifteen year in Chinatown, ‘cause I’ve been here a long time, almost fifteen years. And they have a lot of change in Chinatown, in terms of, let’s said, fifteen years ago, if you, you know Chinatown, pretty much Chinatown is occupied by the Toisanese and Cantonese, you go to the vegetable stand, stand to buy vegetable, you have to speak Cantonese. If you don’t speak Cantonese, you have a hard time to buy a vegetable, because they don’t understand you, and then you don’t understand them.

But ten years later, things have changed. The whole community dynamic in Chinatown have changed. If people understand the structure of Chinatown. Pretty much, there’s a group, a fast-growing group, which is the Fujianese community. They come in very, very quickly, and they occupy half of Chinatown from let’s say east of Bowery, and let’s say south of Houston, and let’s say north of Catherine. All that section, and primarily the Fujianese come in, and a lot of the Toisanese or Cantonese, they kind of move out because of housing price are getting higher and higher because demand get higher, the housing price get higher.

So a lot of people who are here a little bit longer, they need to move out, either move to Connecticut, or New Jersey, or Brooklyn, some are in Queens, and at this time there’s some people start moving to Staten Island. You need, this is like I say, this is first stepping stone for immigrants. When I was in high school, this was, fifteen years ago, a Chinese teacher already say, if you can make it, you probably not living in Chinatown at this time. Meaning that if you have the English skill, you have driver license, you have some money, and you probably move out to the suburb of Connecticut or New Jersey, or some other, like Brooklyn, Flushing. You don’t have to stick in Chinatown, because with the same amount of money, paying rent, example, you can get a three-bedroom apartment for the same amount of money, and you can only get maybe, say, a one-bedroom apartment in Chinatown. So why do you want to stay in Chinatown?

Q: So then how do the new immigrants afford to live in Chinatown if you’re saying Chinatown is so expensive?

Ye: That’s the problem, because in Chinatown, the price so expensive that people cannot afford it, that’s why they have to share their apartment. It’s not that they want to, but because of the economic situation, or the price of the apartment is so expensive, one family simply cannot afford it. As an example, a two-bedroom apartment in Chinatown, easily you have to pay one thousand, five hundred or one thousand, eight hundred dollars. A two-bedroom apartment in Chinatown. A family of four, let’s say, father and mother, both are working, and children going to school. So father work in a restaurant. Mother work in a factory. You know a factory how much you can make. Sometime as you have work to do, you make like forty dollars, or sometime eighty dollars if the garment is good, easy to work with. But sometime when the garment is hard, or there is not many work to do, you probably earn twenty dollars a day, and sometimes a day you had earned ten dollars, when there is no, no job.

So it kind of hard for a family to just make enough money to pay the rent. Forget about the food and other expenses. So there is no way for them to do that, so they divide up an apartment and say, two bedrooms, and they rent out one bedroom, and share the living room, the kitchen, with another family, and so they co-share nine hundred each, example. Each family pay nine hundred dollars. So they can barely survive in a sense. So that all four member of the family has to pack into a one-bedroom apartment. There’s no privacy, you know, for that family. It’s a very, very difficult situation, and we have seen many, many family have to do that.

But if you’re single, then, of course, one bedroom apartment, let’s say two bedroom apartment, easily you can, well, they will, rent it out for eight people, ten people to share, a two-bedroom apartment, so they will have all the bunk bed all over the place. If people know Chinatown well, they know that. So they rent, not by bedroom but by bed space. So that’s how they can pay the rent.


Q: Now why, why is the Fujianese in particular, in the last ten years or so, so attracted to New York? Do they go to other places in America? Do they go to other countries, or do they leave China and New York is the top destination that they want to go to?


Ye: Well, in 1994, the State Department estimate that they have a hundred thousand Fukienese in the U.S., and New York, Chinatown is the prime location. That’s the first choice for all the Fukienese. And so, at that time, in 1994, and this is the time up to the Golden Venture incident, and that’s how the government officials start paying attention to this population. And before that, they don’t really give too much attention unless the local government official, the city or police say that this community have a lot of gain and all that.

But 1994, they estimate a hundred thousand in the U.S., and most of them are in New York City, so this is the first choice, and remember we’re saying, whatever state outside of New York City, they call them out of state. So New York is the home base for the Fukienese. As you can see, East Broadway, that ‘Yidonglo,’ that east mall of east Broadway, eighty-eight east Broadway, that’s at the root of this community, the tree of this community. So most of them when they come, first they come here and see all the job, ah, say, office, that help people look for job, and help people to, um, let’s say, go to different places, you have bus stations and everything.

Of course, ten years ago, this not there. Not many. But still, they have large association here in New York City, a lot of Fukienese association, and so this is the prime, prime location for them. When they first, when they come in, first stepping stone.

And some people do go out of New York City, because there is not, not enough jobs in New York City for them. And most of the men, the Fukienese men are restaurant worker, and most of the lady are garment worker, so a lot of the couple, if they come in as a couple, they probably have to spread out, so the father will go out or stay to work, and come home once a week or twice a week, depends how far or how close you work. If you work far away in Tennessee or Ohio, you probably come home once a month or twice a month, so it depends.


People do go out because, no job. Especially after 9-11, a lot of more people move out of New York City, because job scarcity. There’s no, no, not much work. The garment factory, a lot of them closed down, so then they packed their whole family and moved to out of state or left the children behind and the wife also joined the husband and go to work in a restaurant.

Q: I have the impression, I think a lot of people have the impression that the Fujianese community tends to be a bit of a closed community. If you are not Fujianese, if you don’t speak the dialect, it’s very hard to get in there. Is that true? And because of that, are they, would you say they are more, ah, unified, than say the Cantonese or the other Mandarin speakers in Chinatown?

Ye: Well, I think that is true. Fujianese itself is a very unique community and unique population. If you know the history of Fujian, even back to China, a thousand years ago, they themselves have their own community and the geography of Fujian is like a, like a pot or a wok, you know, big, wide, everything, with sea, access to ocean, they have river, and they have farmland. They themselves is already in the valley of the sea and the mountain. So that community is very close because they speak Fujianese and that’s a daily language that it was, beside going to school and children have to learn the national language which was Mandarin.

And the village and the home, they all speaking Fujianese. And plus Fujianese, the way they come to America also contribute to why they have to stay close. Because a lot of Fujianes, in the early ‘80s, some they of course migrate as immigrant, but many of them migrate here undocumented, in a sense without proper document come here. So there is a lot of distrust with the government, even in Fujian, when you’re from China as a country. And there’s a lot of trust issue, you know, between government and ordinary peasant family or citizen. And it’s very difficult for them when they come here, they don’t know who they should trust. Government certainly is the last place that they want to go because the experience that they have with the Chinese government.

But then, going to other non-Fujianese, they don’t speak the language. It’s kind of hard for you to go, let’s say to a vegetable stand, to buy vegetable, to a Cantonese vegetable stand to buy a vegetable, if you only speak Mandarin or Fukienese. They probably not going to sell it to you. And that’s why, some I have seen in the past, when I walk in the street, people talking Mandarin, and want to buy that vegetable, it’s oh---you go to other, other store, they will never sell to you. Because they cannot communicate. So it’s that, it’s not that they have a very close, close community. It’s just that they don’t want to, don’t have the chance to explore around, and they don’t really know what’s out there.

As an example, a lot of the Fukienese are illiterate and they’re not educated. A lot of them do not even know how to write their names. I have been working with this Fujianese population since, like I said, since I graduate from from college in 1996, and I have a lot of Fujianese client, and then later on, I moved to another agency, which is this one, a Lutheran agency. And primarily our clients are Fujianese, so I kind of know them a little more. And myself is not a Fujianese, but I am able to work with them, because I sort of understand their culture, understand their struggle, and not understanding their language base, is something is a disadvantage, but they do see you as a individual, want to help them. When they see that, they certainly open up to you.

A lot of time, I think the community they say, “Well the Fujianese is very close, therefore we can’t help them.” It’s like, “I don’t want to touch it, this problem is too big.” But if you really look hard and really look through it, there are lots of thing you can do, even though you are not Fujianese. And even the Fujianese themselves have a lot of mistrust issue, and they don’t just open up to anyone.

Q: You think they mistrust the Cantonese? The other Chinese people, not just, say, American government and law and all that, that they don’t understand, but how about just other Chinese in Chinatown?

Ye: Well, I don’t think it’s a mistrust issue in the same way with the Cantonese. Ah, in terms of government, it’s really that’s an issue, because like I say, they come from different system, a government system. But in terms of the Cantonese, I would say, it’s, it’s a, they would see as a struggle, a competition. Maybe you remember back like ten years ago, like I said, or we said, Chinatown pretty much is occupied, fifteen years ago, by the Toisanese, the Cantonese, and there are factories all over the place, and there are a lot of business, and the Cantonese come in, they work, they earn a lot of money. Each week, they can earn a couple of hundred dollar, a thousand dollars, and depending on what kind of garment they’re working with. But for the past ten or fifteen years, there are more and more Fujianese come in, and the pie is that size, one size, but then you have more and more people come and try to share the job, that job market pie, that job pie, and then in this sort of work environment have to create some tension, if you know how the factory system works, that you work faster, you can earn more money, and you can work more garment. Or you cannot work fast, then if you have to work slow, then it’s how much hour you can work.

So the Fukienese come in, they come in with a lot of, they say, they invariably they owe people money the way they came, they owe money to other people, owe it to their family, or to their relative, or to their friend, and so they definitely want to work harder. So in terms of working nine to five, they probably work eight to eight. So that has created a lot of tension between the Cantonese and the Fujianese, and often if you go to the factory you’ll hear that, “Oh, the Fukienese taking our job, oh the Fukienese is ah, making us make less money.” Because some Fukienese, and remember ten years ago from paper you will see that Fukienese women have to stay in the factory overnight to work, and they only sleep three or four hour. It’s not that they wanted to. A lot of time, because the boss required them to finish the work. And they also wanted to make more money. And so, both parties probably contributed to it---But the Cantonese, there is no way for them to stay overnight or work twelve, fourteen hour. And they’re a bit harder, because the way they came, because most of the Cantonese come as a immigrant, with status---

Q: From Hong Kong---

Ye: ---From Hong Kong, or Toisan area. But a lot of the Fujianese they come without status, and when they come in, they already owe people a couple, let’s say, twenty or thirty thousand dollars, and they have to pay it back, and make them work harder. And it makes sense.

So at that it really create a lot of conflict in the community itself still have this kind of issue.

Q: You think part of, maybe there’s a little bit of resentment towards the Fujianese community because they have brought the prices down in a certain way, by creating so much more competition, like they can probably work cheaper than say, some, you know, as you said a person from Hong Kong or Toisan years ago, and because of that they, they’ve created so much more competition in Chinatown, that, that, everything is cheaper. And then the other communities have a little bit of resentment towards the Fujianese community for doing that, like for the buses for example, it’s so cheap, and that has created a lot of wars, and rivalries in Chinatown, and a lot of those are owned by the Fujianese community, correct?

Ye: Yeah, I think resentment probably is, you know, is the word, in a sense, with others in Chinese community, between the Fujianese and, you know, the Cantonese-speaking community. It need, in terms of pricing in the factory, because, like I said, I been here fifteen years and I’ve seen all this changing, and I care about this community, and, and I go to church, I know a lots of different kind of people, and they all share about what happened in the workplace in their community. So I learned a lot about these two community, and not just seeing, but also hearing, and what the people do, and also, seven years ago, I started working with this community and kind of realized that the problem even deeper.

Resentment certainly is the key word here. Because, like I say, if a factory owner can have someone work on this hundred piece of garment, for, let’s say for forty dollars, why I have to pay the Cantonese sixty dollars? So of course they would choose, let’s say, Fujianese to work for forty dollars. So that is a issue, like I said, job, um, competition.

But, ah, let’s say the job market is competing, and the price is going down, but the housing also competing, by going up. So, and so the resentment is that, we live here, and we pay, let’s say, they, they Cantonese probably say, you know, we pay six hundred dollar rent for two-bedroom apartment, and now you Fujianese come in and now we have to pay eight hundred because the landlord is raising the rent and want to, ah, kick them out so they can rent to the Fukienese for higher price.


So that is, is certainly is an issue. But I say, you know, the Fukienese themselves do not really contribute to that, it’s not that they asking for cheaper price, but they have no other way to earn money to pay back their debt. Other than selling their labor force, that’s their only way. And I think it’s a, in terms of the owner, and they also play a role here. But like you, as an example, why does U.S. industry, or U.S. business have moved to China, moved to India, instead of keeping the business here in the U.S.? Because of costs.

In China, you can do it you know, one dollar, yen, one, one, one, yen, or one shoes, but here in the U.S., it’s like one dollar in shoes, then that make a very difference, because usually U.S. dollar and yen is, one U.S. dollar is equal eight yen, you know. So it make a difference. So it all about business. But I guess, the community also suffer because of that.

Q: So tell us about your job today. You are the director?

Ye: Yeah, Director of Immigrant Service.

Q: Here at, ah---

Ye: At New Life Center.

Q: And what, what is---tell us about New Life Center. What is the purpose of the center?

Ye: Well, ah, this Lutheran, ah, social service, New Life Center, started a year and a half ago. Like, I, I, I, say a little bit about September 11th. When September 11 happened, my main office, like only two blocks away from World Trade Center, and part of the airplane wingtips that hit the World Trade Center fall on our main office building, and so that building have to close down. And then, the administrative personnel, or staff moved to our office, and at that time we were located in Christopher Street, Greenwich Village. So they moved to our office, and then we have no choice, then we move to Brooklyn, for one year.


And we stayed there, and there’s not much happen, and we keep doing the work we’re doing, helping this Fukienese community in different way. But more and more during that year we hear from our client, hear from community leaders, hear from churches and hear from the community, that they not really getting much help, or getting as much aid from the September 11 relief, the benefit or help. Then at that time, right after September 11, there are a lot, um, thing going on, you have a mortgage rent assistance, for the people who have been impacted and living in the zone, and you have people can apply for September 11 health insurance, or get a September 11th ESL class training, and you could get like three hundred dollars back every week to help you learn English, or you’re out of job---

And that help the family to pay rent or buy grocery. That, there are money that is definitely is helping. And also when the ESL course is done, you can go for, um, another seven week of vocational training, to learn some real job skill beside government factory, or beside the low, low skill work. They can go and learn some restaurant or other skill.

But it seemed that the Fujianese community not really understand what is happening and don’t know what is out there. So when we ask, the Safe Horizon, as, if you’re familiar with the system, Safe Horizon is, is sort of the, the gate-keeper of the September 11 Fund. If you want to access the September 11 program, or fund, you have to go through Safe Horizon, the on-going recovery program workshop. So when you work with that workshop, then you’ll get a white card, and that white card have your name and your basic information. That white card you can go and apply for health insurance, regardless you’re documented or undocumented, and you also can enroll yourself into ESL training classes, the vocational training classes. But some when we asked them, how many of Fukienese after a year, after one year really went through the workshop. Surprisingly, that, from what we heard from the September 11---from the Safe Horizon established that only a few Fukienese had gone through the workshop.


And I’m,, we’re very surprised, because this community ahs been here for, for so long, and if the estimate of the State Department is right, a hundred thousand already in 1994, and each year you have another ten thousand coming in, and New York City is the primary location that they start with, that they end up with. So, if we just talking about half of the Fukienese, and, and, in New York City, so from 1994, until 2002, and you already have like eighteen thousand, and there’s a hundred and eighty thousand Fukienese, but then half of them, let’s say in and out of New York City, you have like ninety thousand, at least, ninety thousand. Let’s say not all ninety thousand live in Manhattan Chinatown area, but we’re talking about half of that again. You have forty-five thousand Fukienese in Chinatown, and this is the closer imm---

[END TAPE ONE, SIDE ONE (some chatter here): BEGIN TAPE ONE, SIDE TWO]

Q: So you were saying that after September 11, the Fujianese community, very, even though it’s a big community in Chinatown and one that is so close to Ground Zero, you feel that it was alarming that such a small percentage of people actually went ahead and applied for 911 relief funds.

Now, is it because, that, are the funds, or, a two-part question. Are the funds available to everybody that, um, that qualifies, regardless of your status, because you said that a lot of Fujianese came undocumented. Is that part of what kept them away, ‘cause they are afraid that if they go and apply, the government might come after them because they are here illegally. Or, because they are so isolated because of culture, because of language, or whatever reason, that they are not aware, or they don’t know how to go and apply for these things. I mean, what is the problem?

Q: Well, I think you already said, the problem is related to the two questions that you just asked. I was, I’ll address the um, first question first.

You need---a lot of Fukienese are in, in the Chinese community undocumented. But also a lot of them are documented, families are here. But not just the undocumented Fukienese are not getting the September 11th -related service or benefit out there in the community. But those documented families are not receiving either. So what---that is the question that was start asking, calling community leaders, the community itself, and also churches and people that we know. So, we kind of realized that those undocumented in need are afraid that if they apply the government will come after them.

Q: Well, is that true? I mean, is the fund---

Ye: Well, it’s not. Because, as you know, September 11th Fund is set up beside the FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Act), for MRI (?) program, you have to prove some sort of documentation. But there are a lot of program or service out there they say the September 11th Fund is contributed by, let’s say, Red Cross, Salvation Army, by general public, like us, who contribute thousand million dollars into the pool, to help the affected victim. The money is not, let’s say, government, restricted money that is related to the government. It’s for the people who need help, regardless of your status of documented or undocumented. Assuming you have, you qualify, assuming you need help, then they can help you.

But the problem is, two things. One the, the undocumented people, not being educated, what is out there and who qualify and what that will do to them if they apply or not to apply. It seems that they have no idea what is happening.


Two, the same with the documented one. The documented one they don’t really know what is available out there. And some people, they just think that this is not for them. Because, if you know the Chinese community structure, I think that is kind of related to your second question. The first one is that they don’t know. The second question is why they don’t know. Well, if you know the community structure----

Here in Chinatown we have several Chinese newspaper, and only one or two of them are simplified Chinese. And most of them are traditional Chinese character, when you see the newspaper. But if someone, let’s say, for example, from Fujian. You from a country that has been taught simplified Chinese. And now you come here and you buy a piece of paper, in traditional Chinese. It’s like, ah, let’s say native English speaker try to read a Hispanic paper. Can this person understand some of the words? Yeah, like commercial, ‘comercial,’ television, ‘television’. You can understand some of the words. But, do you think you can really understand the whole newspaper, what I’m saying. Well, no. Even the words look similar, and one or two words are the same.

Q: Is that because the two, the main papers are owned by Taiwanese and Hong Kong, and, and those two places write in traditional forms?

Ye: Yeah, there’s a lot of information, saying you can go here to apply this, you can go there to apply this, but the major, the three major paper that we have, the World Journal, Tsing Tao, and Ming Pao, you, you see it’s a traditional form of Chinese. But so, Fukienese don’t really understand what is out there. In terms of radio, you have 1480 (AM), and that’s a time when after 911, 1480 was started, twenty-four hour program. And they did a lot of promotion, people contribute a lot of money to here and there, and you can go apply benefit here and there. But it, for the Fukienese, that’s a foreign language---

Q: Because they speak in Cantonese.

Ye: Yeah, they’re talking in Cantonese, and that’s the only twenty-four Chinese radio station that we have. So you can imagine a Fukienese-speaking person, cannot read, cannot understand, cannot communicate with other Cantonese community people. How, how do they know? That’s one problem.


The other problem is that, when we went to um, meet with the FEMA and the New York Disaster Response Unit, and others, mainstream player about the need of the Fukienese community, when we mentioned about, do you know that the Fujianese community has not been served, or there is no service available to them, they kind of surprised, why is that? We have given so much money to the Chinese community-based organized to serve them. Well, it’s simply the fact that when the Chinese community-based organization, say, we will serve the Chinese community if we can get money. But when they get the money, they, yes, they need serve the Chinese population. But is it the entire Chinese population, or just portion of the Chinese population? So when we, that’s how I met, one of the staff that you mentioned, Charlie (Lai), at one of the meeting. And what we’re asking is that, the Chinese community, is the Fujianese community part of the Chinese community? Yes. Is the Fujianese community also in the zone area? Yes. But how come they’re not getting service? Well, some of those people from the Chinese community, based on what this agency, well, they’re different, because they don’t speak Cantonese.

Q: But they do speak Mandarin?

Ye: Yeah, some of them speak Mandarin. But if you look at the Chinatown community-based organization’s structure, most of those Chinese community-based organization are run by Cantonese, executive staff. Most of the staff are Cantonese speaking. The field staff might speak Mandarin, but when you asking do they speak Fukienese, oh, no, we just don’t have Fukienese-speaking.

It’s like, I’ll give you an example, and that’s, I talked to a general. I know that September 11th Fund has given a pot of money to one of the community-based organization, and now that organization has given that, a portion of that money to local Chinese-based organization. Chinese community-based organization. To hire a couple of staff to build a team and try to serve the Chinese community. So they hire new staff, and we asked how many of those staff speak Fukienese. None. How many of the staff speak Mandarin? Oh, two. And are you guys outreaching the Fujianese community? No. Why is that? Oh, because their location is a little bit far west, but the Fukienese is in the east of Chinatown.

So in the sense that, the community---I mean, I myself am Cantonese. I have nothing against the Cantonese. But, just because I am Cantonese, I can understand both language, I can understand what they say in the Chinese radio, or from others, Cantonese staff, about the Fukienese community. But the thing is that, if the money were given to them, to serve the entire Chinese community, they should do some effort to reach the entire Chinese community, not just portion of the Chinese community. They’re screwing the Fukienese.

So what happen the Fukienese that, if you have no staff who can speak the language, or are able to communicate with the language they can understand? There’s no way for them to understand. So, because of that problem, being that the Chinese-based community organization, not able to communicate with the Fukienese community, there is no intensive outreach to the Fukienese community, and now we see that there’s a gap, because one of the research studies done by Asian-American Federation, ah, a couple of years ago, they reported that it’s only, in the Fujianese community there is only 1.56 percent of the Fujianese have junior high or higher education degree. So you can imagine there’s 98.46 percent, or 98.44 percent of the Fujianese community, people in the community, have junior high or less education, so it mean that a big chunk of them are illiterate. So how can you communicate with illiterate, ah, people in the community? By word of mouth.

The way that you can understand. So we saw this is huge gap. Even after a year. A year later. September 11th , and we move from Brooklyn to this building November of 2002. That’s where we started. Because we saw the gap, and we move in, to this community, and we wanted to try to fill the gap, in the sense that, we’ve been working with the Fukienese community for seven, a couple of years, we have their trust, and we have the relationship with them already. And they don’t, and then too, for us, as a Chinese community-based organization, because we are Lutheran. This is a mainstream agency. But they know that we are helping them, and they know that we’re church, faith-based organization, and they know that we are here to help them, not to harm them.

So when we moved in, the first that we did is to create that flyer that they, we give out to the people, it’s a simplified Chinese flyers, with simplified Chinese characters, and with simple words, that even low-education immigrant can understand, so try to tell them who we are, what we intend to do, and what kind of service we can provide to them. So that’s how the word get out to the community, and then the Fukienese community start coming, a dozen of them, two dozen of them.

We propose, in one year, starting November 2002 to November of 2003, we proposed to serve one hundred families, because we only got one small grant for the Lutheran Disaster Response New York. So it’s called LDRNY. We got a small grant to start this program, and we started with two staff. Just two staff. And to help this community, and we have a Fukienese staff, primarily do outreach education. And that’s how we started, and the people come and within three month, and we already serve four hundred client in three months, and by ninth month, we have served a thousand, two hundred client. So it’s so far more what we budgeted or to planned to serve. You know, you see the need of this community is so, so big.

Q: Now you’re, the church here serves everybody, not just Fujianese.

Ye: Oh, yes. The church itself is a Cantonese-based church, and we, we, ah, proposed to serve the Fujianese community with a grant that we requested from LDRNY, because they allow the community-based organization already serving the Cantonese community, already because they speak the same language, they been serving them, that community for a long time, but the Fujianese is simply, is still covered by dust. It’s like a, September 11th dust still covered this community. The people still don’t see the need of the community, or even they see, probably they don’t really care. So that’s why, when I talking to Charlie Lai about the need of this community, he have the passion for that. I call them “underserved community,” and Charlie Lai called, actually probably “unserved community.” It’s so realistic, and how come a year later, you have thousand, ten of thousand of Cantonese already got a white card, already finished all those training program, and already got all the help and money, mortgage rental assistance---everything that they can apply, they already apply. They even applying for, you know, purifier and air conditioner, everything they can apply, they already apply. For the Fukienese they still have no clue what is happening in the community. So that’s why I call them ‘unserved community.’

Q: So it, it seems the main problem is language, here. That is, keeping the Fujianese community isolated, and it seems to me, perhaps, that they should not just be training to speak English, but maybe Cantonese. Is that, has that ever been thought of, so that the Fukienese can assimilate into Chinatown, a little bit more?

Ye: But you say, try to not teach them only English, but teach them----

Q: ---A little bit of Cantonese---

Ye: Cantonese.

Q: ----So they can survive in Chinatown better.

Ye: Right, but I ask you a question. In Chinatown itself, how many Cantonese restaurant you have, or how many Fujianese restaurant you have? If, like, you try to, they say, if entire U.S. move, population move to China, and then you tell China, say, now you should learn English, so that you can communicate with us, don’t you think we should think the other way around? The people coming to Chinatown, most of them are just worker, or business owner, but people who live in Chinatown, majority of them are Fukienese. Think about it. Why do we have to ask the Fukienese to learn Cantonese, to try to fit in, why not the Cantonese try to learn Mandarin? We’re not even asking them to learn Fukienese. Mandarin is the national language of the

Q: ---Of China---

YE: ---China, which is the official language. Everybody should know, as a citizen of, let’s say, Chinese, or if you call yourself, Chinese-American, it might be a good idea to just learn Mandarin, right, to help them. For immigrant coming in, like Fukienese, they already struggle, try to survive, and now you’re asking them to learn Cantonese to try to fit in. Now you’re asking a, monk to give you some hair. It’s very, very, difficult. So I think the community-based agency, they themselves have a mission to serve the Chinese community. When you serve, as you try to come out, whatever way you can, to help. Not to ask the people who come to you to help, ask for help, then you have to do something before we help you, let’s say if you want, like in buy your vegetable, example. If you want, if you want to buy vegetable from me, you have to learn Cantonese. If you don’t learn Cantonese, I’m not going to sell you a vegetable. I think that’s, the other way around. This is business, right? So the business owner, just say, oh, if I want to do this business, I should learn Mandarin, and so that I can have more customer.


So, I think the mentality that, I mean the question that you ask, probably allows those Cantonese community leaders probably thinking the same. Why they don’t learn, ah, Cantonese. That’s the same mentality, but that’s the problem, because the community is so huge. You talk about four, let’s say, you know, minimum instrument, you talk about forty-five thousand Fukienese, and you ask all of them to try to learn Cantonese. Don’t you think that a little bit tough? Yeah, it is tough. Instead of asking them to learn about ways as a provider to learn the language and try to serve them.

And I think that’s the issue here, with this community, and I think the resentment that we talk about before, that between this Cantonese and the Fukienese community, that is still playing a big part of that. And also the language barrier is one thing, but the Fukienese community need, what do they need is education. If so many people are illiterate, mean that the way they process information, it could be very slow, or very uneasy. So when you try to explain to them, the benefit that you apply, the September 11th benefit, is not related to government, but they still think that it’s related, then how can you help them to take the fear away? Simple, you educate them and give them some concrete information. And say, we, because we hire attorneys, immigration attorneys. And we ask immigration attorney to explain to them, instead of say, just us, we explain to them, so it take one of the level of fear away, but they have another level in term of legal. In social matter, they understand, well, this probably not going to affect me, even if I apply, and it will help me and help my family. But in legal matter, and how, how can it take that fear away, and if you come as a professional, immigration attorney, and try to explain to them the way the law works in America, then that really take the fear away.

So after they hear, from an attorney, their old fear gone, and then just come in, and to apply. So because of the way they were approached, and speaking the language that they understand, speaking the level that they can understand, and giving the, getting the right people to explain to them, the Fukienese-speaking staff, or immigration attorney, and so that people know they have nothing to risk, because they do need help, their family is decompensating, there is domestic violence, child abuse incidence is growing higher and higher and more, because the husband and wife no job, they stay at home. In the past they work, you see once a week, you don’t fight, you know, everything is good. But now, no job, you’re poor, you have limited resources, you see your child every day, that create a lot of conflict, and not everyone know how to resolve this kind of problem.

So, by helping them to get some of the help from the September 11-related system, actually relieves some of the family tension. And that we’re seeing that as the need, and that’s why we come in to provide this, try to fill the gap. And in our open house, like I say, the New Life Center open house on December 12th, and there’s hundred of community people from the community and from the city, and from the federal, labor department, and other people came, and we already said to all the public, we’re here not to compete, but we’re here to try to fill the gap, we try to build a bridge, so that the community-based, Chinese community-based organization can use us as a bridge to reach this Fukienese community. And that’s what we’re trying to do. And until now, we’re still doing that, and we have referred hundreds of clients to the Chinese-based community. And in some ways we screen them, they understand Mandarin. They have staff in their agency who can speak Mandarin, and we’re trying to refer them. But of course, if they don’t speak Mandarin, you know, and they speak Fukienese, and those agency have no Fukienese-speaking staff, why should we refer them, so that when we try to help them, whatever way we can, with the limited resources.

Q: Are you still being funded by any 911 money?

Ye: Well, after today, today is March 11th----

Q: ---Eleventh---

Ye: Two thousand and four---

Q: ---Four---

Ye: ---Um, we still get funded by September 11th Fund. We understand that our program had been closed because limited funding that have September 11th fund left. But since we started New Life Center, and we served this Fujianese community, with that small grant, grant of money from this LDNRY, is a private foundation, is a Lutheran foundation as a matter of fact, that we started and we sort of surpassed the number that we anticipated to serve in one year, and we have presented this problem to the September 11th Fund, and they also realized that this community is not being served, I mean, as properly, I would say. So they started funding us since last year, and so this year, when they asked us to, send them another proposal, and which we did, and then they funded us again. And because of that funding we’re able to continue to help the underserved population.

Q: Do you think there is not enough dialogue between the different associations, organizations in Chinatown? Or is there not a leader that is strong enough to lead this community?

Ye: Well, I clearly can say from the political point of view and from the community point of view, I think what we are lacking is that, like you say a strong leader. I think it is a matter of unity. The changes to Chinatown, you have, you probably have a couple of population. One, the people from different borough come to work , and you have lots of business owner, which involve this group, does not live in Chinatown. But then you have lots of resident in Chinatown, and, one, a big part of that restaurant is the Fujianese community. But Fujianese immigrant community is, that is, so, so, new to this country, they don’t even know what the law is. It’s kind of hard for them to get into the politic arena, but a lot of Cantonese have been here for so long they know what they can do to voice out for the Chinese community. But a lot of time, our voice has been split. You look at the history, how in Chinatown, we have candidates who come to run for city councilman, or city councilwoman. You have three candidates and try to spread the same amount of votes, among this same community. But in the end, none of them win, so who win? They say this time Ellen Garson win again. But from history, and if you really talk about Chinese, Chinatown history, I think ourselves, Chinese have to reflect and how to really think what is the best interest of the Chinatown. It’s not what is the best interest of my self or my group. It’s the entire Chinatown. So if we, if we, have small voices from here, from there, from there, those, they politician first they will not hear you. It’s true, the community if not working together, the energy and the force, is limited.

So if we have a, say strong leader in Chinese community. Let’s say you have hundreds of associations in Chinatown, could we say, Toisanese, Cantonese, Fukienese, or other, in northern part of China, and you have CCBA, you have so many association, but you know, if this organization united, but not just by name, united as a one identity and listen to one voice, instead of just talking here and there, you have a better chance in term of a political arena, in term of how to put a community together.

Look, Chinatown is a closer immigrant community to Ground Zero. But how come their resources is so limited to come down to Chinatown, if you really do a research study, compared to money that the, let’s say the September 11th Fund have, the Salvation Army and Red Cross receive. How, how many percent of that money really divert to the Chinese community to rebuild Chinatown? We’ve taught so many to rebuild Chinatown. But how much of the money really come into Chinatown, to help our community, to help the people being affected, impacted? If you look at the number is significantly smaller, significantly small. Why is that?

Well, because Chinatown is part of, I want to say part of lower east side. From years, I mean, I would say as a Chinese, I would say it’s part of lower east side in need, because each community have their own small mountain, and each association, on top of that small mountain, have their fire. But then this, small fires like is one candle, you can not really make much difference, but if you imagine you put all the small mountain together, you got a big mountain, and you put all the small fire together, then you see this huge mountain of fire. Don’t you think the whole Tri-State Area will see your area is a fire? Right? World Trade Center got hit. The whole world know. Why? Because it’s so tall, so famous, and it got hit. The smoke goes sky high, high. And the whole world will see it. But imagine if one building in China get a fire, maybe the people who live in Brooklyn have no idea, or people who live in the east of Chinatown will have no idea that East Broadway have a building that just burned down, right? So I think it’s a matter of pulling together as one community and then speak out for the community, but at this time, personally I feel that we did not really speak out as one community, we just here and there, and that’s why our community has not been served properly.

Q: But we, what is the thing that you think can unite us, because it’s from, it sounds like language does not unite us, there’s all---from writing to speaking, is all over the place, so what is the main thing that you think this community can agree on, to come together on?

Ye: As long as you identify yourselves, as a Chinese community, or as a Chinese-American, with that word, “Chinese,” you already have a base to start with. If you consider yourself Chinese, then you can communicate in the sense that U.N. (United Nations). How come the U.N. can function? Is it all the U.N. people, or the representative of the U.N., speak the same language? No, they don’t speak the same language, but they have the same mission. They all, together, as a one identity, we’re the United Nations, we come from different part of world, speak different language, but we’re here as a one identity. And when you have meeting, you can use translation. If you don’t, really, speak Fukienese, then you’re Fukienese leader, I mean that, you’re a Fukienese leader, you don’t speak Mandarin, then while someone speak Mandarin, you can use ear prop and translation. All the Cantonese, they say, I don’t speak Mandarin. Then, can, you know, translation.

But I think language can be conquered. If U.N. can conquer that, Chinese community certainly have no problem, because you is talking about, there’s probably a hundred and eight different dialects, and we do a talk in here, probably less than ten dialects here, right?----

Q: ---Main ones.

YE: ---Main ones. So if you have ten different dialect, it’s not that hard to conquer. But only thing the Chinese community have to realize that, if we don’t reunite, we’re still going the same, year after year, so look at, for the past fifteen years, yeah, I see some progress in the Chinese community, but there is not much have done. Just look at the traffic light down Canal Street; you find the traffic run over a old lady, or old man, because they walk too slow and trucks have to run over them so they can get to Holland Tunnel. That problem has been presented for years. Is there anything have done with that? Not really. Why not? Because Chinatown itself is a land of no one. We voiced out to politicians. And politicians, why I have to do this to you? What you have done for me? When time of vote, how many voters contributed to me, to my party? Oh, sorry, not many. Then, why are you asking?

Q: So the problem is people, Chinese people don’t vote, so therefore we don’t have political power in the city.

Ye: It’s not that Chinese people don’t vote, it’s that, that, people who know how to vote, and people who know what votes mean, for the community, are not really working hard enough to educate the community to vote. Like I say, we’re, we’re living in the U.S., we have this voting rights. But you’re in China, vote is something new. When you talk about, let’s have a meeting of four hundred people, and talk about politics, you’re probably in the next hour you end up in jail, right?

But in U.S. it’s different. U.S., you can vote, you have the right to vote, you have the voice out, either against your country, or speak for your country, you could. But a lot of people are still, even though they become a U.S. citizen, but they don’t know what kind of duty and responsibility they have. In the past, say many years ago, before you become a U.S. citizen, they even teach you the duty and responsibility of a U.S. citizen, once you become a U.S. citizen. But now the so, everything instant, just pass the test and we give you the naturalization certificate, and now you’re a U.S. citizen. But what about the duty and responsibility? If the government is not doing that, then who will do that, and form the shoulder of our community-based organization, or association?

But if we’re not doing that enough, to make it voting day as a community event day, people would not really know about it. A lot of people, when voting day, do you think they know this is the voting day, or today is the voting day? No, they won’t know, no. Because they don’t read newspaper, they can’t understand. But if you make it your effort, and try to go out in the community and make noise about this, you have a better chance. Because we look at the voting numbers, it’s pretty slow---ah, pretty small. But we haven’t found more registered voter than the actual voter come out.

Q: You seem like a very passionate man who cares deeply about the community. How about yourself? Have you thought of running for something?

Ye: Well, you know, I, you know, I thought about it, but like you know, like you mentioned when you started, you know, I’m still young, there a lot of things to learn, and politics, it’s, ah, something big. Because running politics you need a different skill. Not just someone can speak and have the passion, you can do it. You need to have to the right connection, the right people, and know, know, the right people. Really know the big guys in the community, so they can you know speak for you or support you. Because otherwise to just go out there and say I’m here, running. They’ll say, who are you, where you come from? Right? It very, very true, because politics is money, money is politics, and in I’m just an ordinary family father, and it’s kind of, it will take me some time. You know, I wouldn’t say never, never, but I just say that I am still learning, I am meeting people, and now I’m, at this level I’m just a director, I’m just meeting director-level people, but, meeting with the an executive, and other, probably will take me some years. So. But I know there a lot of people out there who already know the whole system, who already know all the connection, and already know all the big guy. Those people probably have a better chance. As long as we pull together. We need to sit at one table and talk about the need of the community and put down our own agenda, our own selfish agenda, and what is best for the community is not what is best for me, or for my wallet.

If they don’t come with that kind of selfish agenda, certainly and Chinatown have better chance and better hope.

Q: Well, for someone who came, who left China at thirteen and then came here at nineteen, with no clear dreams or ambition, I think you have found yourself in a place, um, that you’ve done a lot for the community. Are you surprised, you look back, the last fifteen years, and where you are now?

Ye: Well, actually, I’m very surprised, even though a lot of my friends, my classmates, they also suprised, and how come you can come so fast and so high? I guess the word is passion. I have passion for the immigrant community because myself is a immigrant, and I’ve gone through so many hard times, and once I got here, and like I say, I called Chinatown it’s a cemetery, because I really see a lot of young people dying every day and gangs fight and struggle, and there’s lots of problems in Chinatown, and because my faith, because my religion background, that really help me to understand that humanity is not something selfish, you have to sacrifice. I could go out and do business and probably make a decent amount of money and go on vacation every six months, but I choose to stay in the social work field.

When I look back, I really feel that the kind of reward that I’m getting or I got is far more than money can buy, and it’s a surprise thing for me. I mean, I got an example, I, I enter Hunter Social Work School in the year 2000. I graduated in two and half years later, and I did not pay a penny to get that degree, because I get a scholarship from the Department of Health and Hygiene. And I look back, there’s so many people in New York City competing for that two, twenty slot, and I was one of them. How could I, can I get it, and how do other people when they’re able? Very one simple word: it’s because I care about the community, and I have done a lot for the community, and the, the people who look at that application also see that, and that someone can even do more if they have the M.S.W. degree (Master’s of Social Work). So they choose to, they give to me for free, and get this education.

So that really encourage me, that whatever I have done, even though I am not really get awarded in a sense, cash, but the system itself is awarding me, and they say awarding, and they give some awards to me. And I feel pretty good about that, and I’m so thankful that, in New York City, actually, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene have recognized that, and I’m so, you know, proud of that as well. And so that really is a way to encourage me to continue, that one day, you know, when you need it and people will recognize you and award you for what you have done.

So, yeah, it is a surprise. I never thought that I would come to today and just thought I would also get more educated and I can do something helpful that can help the people and help myself, but this is definitely is a huge reward.

Q: So, my last question, um, since you said when you came to Chinatown, you see Chinatown as a cemetery. Are you optimistic that in your lifetime this cemetery will be filled with, or alive with life rather than, than, a graveyard? Do you think this can be done?

YE: I, you know, I’m a man of hope and a man of faith, I never give up something when we still have a chance, and I think Chinatown itself has a lot of potential, and Chinatown also have lots of potential people and leaders. I do see that, that things have changed, for the past fifteen year. Especially with the Giuliani administration, because he wipe out all the gangs. Other gangster and prosecute all of them, sort of kind of die, die out for a couple of years, and have changed a little bit. It’s not that scary for that era.

But thing, you know, change again. So what I really think that Chinatown, if we really want to say you know, instead of cemetery become a garden, it takes some hard work, and what this hard work mean is not just probably for this generation from leaders, but for the second generation immigrant leaders. Because if this generation cannot break the wall, to sit down and really talk, ask the question of what is best for our community and let’s work together regardless of what is our personal opinion and personal agenda, if they cannot do that, and I don’t think there’s much we can do, but we just keep going as a way in, sometime get a little bit better, sometime get much more worse, but I do place a lot of hope in the second generation immigrant, that the second generation immigrant, I myself was the first generation to consider, but hope the second generation will have enough skills that can speak different languages, Mandarin, English, Cantonese, and a lot of the Fukienese people already speak, just three, I mean the young generation speak the two or three language. I have a couple of staff who are Fukienese who can speak English, Cantonese, Mandarin, have no problem.

So I just you know, want to say that the second generation working with the first generation young immigrant, they can do something much more positive than what we could do in this generation. Because this generation if we still have that old mind-set, it will be hard. But I, I see the second generation it changing. When I talk about the second generation, like ABC, but when I talk about the first young generation, I mean, they come as a teenager, they see all the struggle, all the problem. So if this two generation can work together, I think we certainly can change the Chinatown into a garden, and in terms of keep being a graveyard.

But they, they do need to work together and communicate together, in the sense now in the schools. Sometimes, the ABC still pick on the new immigrant, ”Oh, your English is not so good.” But if those new immigrant children pick on them, “Oh, you call yourself Chinese, shame on you, you don’t even speak Chinese.” And if they continue with that kind of mentality, then that’s another war that they have to deal with. But so, I hope that this generation whatever we cannot do, but at least we can educate our children, educate our second generation or the young immigrant generation to break that wall, to live as a one community, and to work as a one community, and for the better future of Chinatown.

Q: Well, thank you so much for sharing your views and your vision with us today. Is there anything else that you want to say, that I haven’t asked you?

Ye: No, pretty much you asked a lot of good questions, and I think you also, I feel that you also know the community well, and the struggle, of course from the Chinese Museum, I can imagine you probably know the past, you know the present and hopefully you guys will do more to create a better future for Chinatown. Ah, you need, I think history itself can make men wise. Without history, we don’t know what is passed, what had happened. So history is so important, so I hope that more and more second generation and also the new immigrants’ children can have opportunity to really learn more about the history of Chinatown, and to interview like this certainly can help them to understand what kind of struggle, ah, we have gone through and what we are facing, and hopefully in the future this thing will not happen again. And certainly about this Fujianese community, after we have gone thought those September 11th meetings, and with FEMA, with the government official, and federal and local level official, we have told them so much about this community, I strongly believe, this idea of, that if there is another let’s say, incident or disaster that happen in New York City or any part of the country, certainly they probably are more, will be more sensitive, to each community, not just listen to what people are saying, but that they themselves would investigate and understand which community has not been served and why it hasn’t been served. Because, if they’re giving the money out, they certainly need, will need to hold the people who are getting the money accountable and responsible for getting the funds. Because the funds themselves come from different parts of sources, and some from people, ordinary people, and some from rich people, but certainly using that fund to the right community, and to the people that really need it is so important.

So I think after going to all the meetings they certainly have better understanding about the structure of Chinatown themselves, so the working group that they have, from what I heard is that they already have a map out, and yes, when you’re working with immigrant community you have to look beyond this group that you can see. So, so to speak, like Fukienese community, we call them, it’s a minority group within the minority group. So really, it’s need to help.

So, I think, I think that that probably will help us to understand, because Chinese community is one community, but in Chinese community you have another, you know, minority group, like a Fukienese. So I, I kind of feel that other community might have the same struggle, same problem, so I just hope that those government official, the state and local official and people who are giving out funding can be more savvy and more careful when they give out the money and need to hold everyone accountable.

And so that really help all the people who needed help, not just certain people who just happen to know how to get help. But there a lot of people, sometime they don’t even know how to ask for help, because they so, desperate and so badly impacted, like this community, that they don’t even know how to ask for your help, so I hope that this something that I share can be helpful, um, to become part of the history.

Q: Well, the Fujianese community is lucky to have you to help them here.

Well, I’ve been speaking with Henry Ye, of True Light Lutheran Church. Thank you so much for your time, and, and sharing your views with us. And my name is Lan Trinh. Thank you.

Ye: Thank you.

[end of session]

Chinatown Interview: Interview (zh)

<p> 問﹕今天是2004年3月11日。我現在在唐人街Worth Street True Light Church﹐坐在我旁邊的是Henry Ye。你能先講一下你是從哪里來的嗎﹖</p>
<p>葉﹕我在中國廣州出生﹐後來在南美洲待了六年﹐然後來到了紐約。</p>
<p>問﹕哇﹐[笑] 講得很快。請稍微慢一些。你是在廣州出生的。我能問一下你的年紀嗎﹖</p>
<p>葉﹕在我離開中國的時候﹐我十三歲。</p>
<p>問﹕那是哪一年﹖</p>
<p>葉﹕1982年。</p>
<p>問﹕82年。你的家人爲什麽決定要離開中國﹖</p>
<p>葉﹕實際上﹐我姐姐一家當時已經在中美洲了﹐所以我們就移民到那裏和他們團聚。當然﹐中國的機會比較少﹐我想從經濟狀況方面來看﹐你的生活上的選擇也比較少。</p>
<p>問﹕你是否還記得你小時候在中國的事情﹖</p>
<p>葉﹕一點點。我想我記得很清楚的就是我出生在一個非常貧困的家庭﹐農民家庭﹐總是不夠吃﹐家裏也沒有錢。我之所以認爲南美洲的機會會多一些是因爲我看到我姐姐過得還不錯﹐所以我們決定舉家去中美洲發展。</p>
<p>
問﹕你姐姐已經住---</p>
<p>葉﹕是的。</p>
<p>問﹕在中美洲哪里﹖</p>
<p>葉﹕巴拿馬。</p>
<p>問﹕所以她合法申請你們去了巴拿馬﹖</p>
<p>葉﹕是的。我的兄弟姐妹都已經不在中國了。</p>
<p>問﹕那你是和你的父母一起去的﹖</p>
<p>葉﹕實際上﹐我父母去得晚﹐後來我母親才去了中美洲。</p>
<p>問﹕你當時才十三歲﹐你的感覺如何﹖你想離開中國嗎﹖</p>
<p>葉﹕就像你剛才所講﹐我只有十三歲﹐一些事情並不是由我一個人決定的。我只是覺得要去另外一個地方﹐就好象是去旅遊。在沒有到那裏之前你並不知道要走多遠。所以﹐我在那時並沒有太多的感覺。我的哥哥也去﹐所以我就跟著他﹐就好象去逛街一樣。你不知道將要發生什麽事情﹐但我知道我可能會要去很長一段時間。</p>
<p>問﹕你當時想象巴拿馬會是什麽樣子的﹖</p>
<p>葉﹕沒有什麽印象。他們只是說那個地方沒有冬天﹐四季都是一樣的﹐就是熱。</p>
<p>
問﹕在你去之前﹐你是否會講西班牙文﹖</p>
<p>葉﹕不會。</p>
<p>問﹕你到那兒之後感覺如何﹖你不講當地的語言﹐是不是覺得很難適應﹖</p>
<p>葉﹕是的。實際上的確非常非常地困難﹐因爲在我走之前我還在中國讀書。但後來我到巴拿馬的時候﹐當然我不會講西班牙文﹐我只講中文。這給我的就學造成很大困難﹐因爲那個地區不像這裏﹐沒有雙語教學。這使我很難適應﹐我想讀書﹐但是我跟不上﹐所以只好退學。我用了兩年的時間跟我的鄰居學西班牙文。</p>
<p>問﹕你用了多長時間才能夠自由和別人用西班牙文對話﹖</p>
<p>葉﹕在一年半之後﹐我才感覺好了一些。因爲我當時還小﹐只有十三歲﹐在那個年齡學西班牙文還不是太吃力。所以﹐在一年半之後﹐我能夠和那些土生土長的巴拿馬人自由會話。在那以後﹐我就覺得過了語言關﹐於是決定重返學校。</p>
<p>問﹕你沒有想回中國嗎﹖</p>
<p>葉﹕沒有﹐因爲我全家都在那裏,也沒有必要回去了。在一年半之後﹐我覺得已經非常適應那個新的環境了﹐所以我決定留下來。</p>
<p>問﹕在巴拿馬有沒有一個華人的社區﹖你在那邊有沒有中國朋友﹐那邊有沒有中國商店﹐食品---</p>
<p>
葉﹕有。實際上﹐巴拿馬市有一個唐人街。非常非常小﹐只不過是兩條街﹐但那裏有中國餐館﹐中國商店。在朋友方面﹐我想我的巴拿馬朋友多過我的中國朋友﹐因爲除非你住在唐人街﹐大家都是分散在各地。所以和其他中國人接觸的機會很少﹐除非在節日慶祝的時候由華人團體把大家聚在一起﹐但除此以外只是學校的同學。但他們大多數都是在巴拿馬土生土長的巴拿馬人。</p>
<p>問﹕你沒有覺得受到排斥嗎﹖我的意思是說﹐在你學會講當地的語言之後﹐跟別人溝通是沒有問題了﹐但你覺得能夠融入那個社會嗎﹖</p>
<p>葉﹕是的﹐沒有什麽問題。實際上﹐我上的那家學校﹐那家初中只有一個中國人﹐就是我。大家都對我非常好﹐大部分的同班同學和學校裏的學生都對我非常好。他們知道我跟他們不一樣﹐但他們都能夠接受我﹐他們也歡迎我加入他們的圈子。所以﹐我感覺在那裏生活不錯﹐而且有很多朋友。</p>
<p>問﹕你在巴拿馬待了多長時間﹖</p>
<p>葉﹕我在那裏待了六年。我畢業後就工作了﹐大約是六年。</p>
<p>問﹕在那以後﹐你是怎樣來美國的﹖</p>
<p>葉﹕後來﹐我來美國讀書。我感覺巴拿馬太---﹐我全家都在那裏﹐但我還是想多體驗一些。巴拿馬是個非常小的國家﹐那裏的機會也是很有限的。我總是想受高等教育﹐總是想上大學﹐於是我來這裏上大學﹐想多學一些東西。</p>
<p>
問﹕在哪里﹖你去了哪間大學﹖</p>
<p>葉﹕我去了城市大學﹐CUNY﹐紐約市立大學。</p>
<p>問﹕你爲什麽選擇那個學校﹖你爲什麽選擇紐約市﹖</p>
<p>葉﹕我認爲紐約市很多元化﹐不論是在人口方面﹐還是語言方面。我喜歡這種不同﹐學習不同的語言。所以﹐我認爲紐約會給我提供這樣的機會去結識各種各樣的人﹐不講西班牙文、講西班牙文、或者不講中文的學生。這就是我選擇紐約的原因。</p>
<p>問﹕你在巴拿馬有學英文嗎﹖</p>
<p>葉﹕沒有。實際上﹐我有學習一點英文﹐但不能完全對話。你也許懂一些單詞﹐英文單詞﹐但因爲沒有練習的環境﹐所以很難說我懂英文。也許我懂一些單詞﹐但不會講英文。</p>
<p>問﹕那麽﹐你19歲的時候來到紐約﹐講流利的中文和西班牙文﹐但非常有限的英文﹐便來這裏讀大學了。</p>
<p>葉﹕是的。</p>
<p>問﹕你覺得很艱難嗎﹖</p>
<p>葉﹕是的﹐非常艱難。實際上﹐我來之後就馬上註冊入學了。因爲我的英文水平不好﹐我覺得如果我馬上上大學的話會浪費很多錢﹐因爲你是外國學生﹐你要花很多錢上ESL補習英文。於是﹐我決定先上高中﹐學些英文﹐所以我又重上高中﹐這次不單單是學英文﹐<br>

我又選了其他一些課程﹐我花了兩年時間讀完了高中。在那之後﹐我上了大學。所以在那之前﹐我花了兩年時間做準備。</p>
<p>問﹕你是否覺得在19歲的時候還上高中很奇怪嗎﹖儘管你看起來還很年輕﹐我覺得你看起來比你的實際年齡要小。</p>
<p>葉﹕是的﹐是很奇怪。但我去的是Lower East Side Preparatory High School﹐他們只接收十七歲以上﹑有初中或高中畢業文憑的學生。這樣﹐他們可以幫助你適應這個社區環境。所以﹐這對我有很大幫助。我認識的很多學生都來自世界各地﹐他們的年齡也差不多是十七﹑十八歲。他們並不比我年輕多少﹐所以我在那個學校還不是覺得很特殊。</p>
<p>問﹕你以前有沒有來美國的願望﹖你想將來做什麽﹖</p>
<p>葉﹕十九年來我倒沒有什麽太大的願望﹐只不過是想多學一些知識﹐多接受一些高等教育。我那時候還不知道十年之後我會在哪里或做些什麽﹐但是我唯一知道的事情就是要上大學完成學業﹐這樣我會有更多的機會。但究竟什麽樣的機會﹐我不知道。</p>
<p>問﹕你的父母有沒有給你一些建議或壓力讓你做些什麽﹖</p>
<p>葉﹕沒有。我父母沒有受什麽教育。我母親在中國壓根兒沒有上過什麽學﹐她是文盲。我想我父親也只上到二年級。所以他們沒有上學的機會﹐也是這些使我懂得教育的重要性。他們沒有要求我必須做律師或醫生什麽的﹐只是說﹐你要是想讀書﹐你就去讀書﹐只要他們沒有阻止我﹐那已經算是支援了。</p>
<p>
問﹕你是自己一個人來這裏的﹐你當時在紐約跟誰住在一起﹖</p>
<p>葉﹕我來到這兒之後交了一些朋友﹐我和朋友們住在一起。我只是住在這裏上學﹐並不是說我在這裏有個基地什麽的﹐因爲你也知道﹐大多數學生都是自己一個人來這邊的。</p>
<p>問﹕你是在唐人街住的嗎﹖</p>
<p>葉﹕是的。實際上﹐我剛來的時候是住在唐人街。我住在Christie Street,Christie和Grant Street的交口處。</p>
<p>問﹕這是哪年的事情﹖你剛來的時候﹖</p>
<p>葉﹕我想是1989年﹐這是很久以前的事情了。</p>
<p>問﹕那時候的唐人街同現在有很大不同。你來的時候害不害怕﹖你對唐人街的感覺如何﹖</p>
<p>葉﹕那個時候的唐人街同現在比起來有很大不同。在那個時候﹐準確地說是80年代末90年代初﹐唐人街有很多幫派﹐你會看到在街角有很多年青人站在一起﹐那時候是挺嚇人的。我的確認爲唐人街那時候是個墳墓﹐因爲很多人被殺被搶﹐那些年青人看上去並沒有想上學﹑求上進的動力。我就是覺得他們沒有什麽前途。</p>
<p>墳墓只是我當時腦子裏想的一個詞﹐如果他們不改變的話﹐唐人街也不會有什麽發展。</p>
<p>問:但是對於那些獨自一個人來這裏的年輕人來講,他們大多數加入幫派是因爲他們很孤獨,在這裏沒有家庭,得不到別人的幫助。爲什麽你當時沒有想加入幫派呢?</p>
<p>
葉:實際上,我也有想過。實際上,我在巴拿馬的時候也並不是個全優學生。我差不多是在貧民窟長大的,所以也很複雜,在我家周圍也有很多幫派。但當我來到美國之後,我的目的是要受到更好的教育,要更加充實自己。於是,我覺得最好的辦法是在我來之前成爲一個基督徒。這個同你的問題有很大關係。所以,當我來到美國的時候,我已經有那種基督信仰---我有讀聖經,它教導你如何行善,不殺生,不傷害別人,你必須幫助別人,所以我也有去唐人街的教堂。</p>
<p>我覺得這的確改變了我,因爲教會的人引導我向好的方面發展。然而我社區裏的同學或校友教我學壞。因此,我總會有個選擇。這樣,我會知道什麽是好,什麽是壞,我能夠在好與壞之間做出選擇。所以,我選擇了好,而沒有加入那些幫派。</p>
<p>問:你的家人也是基督徒嗎?</p>
<p>葉:不是。實際上,我父母和兄弟姐妹都不是基督徒。但在我成爲基督徒之後,我向我的一些侄子侄女傳福音,這樣他們也成了基督徒。</p>
<p>問:在你在中國長大的時候,人們不能公開地進行宗教活動,那你是不是在巴拿馬才開始接觸基督教呢?</p>
<p>葉:是的。在中國的時候,我不太瞭解宗教,因爲正如我剛才所講,只有十三歲,只看到我父母不時地燒香祭奠祖先。但後來我到了巴拿馬,那裏是個自由的國家,因爲那裏的國教是天主教,是個宗教國家,我看到我的鄰居們每個星期天都去教堂,於是我開始産生了好奇心,便自問,爲什麽他們穿戴整齊去教堂呢---於是,我就問他們,去教堂有什麽好處?<br>

他們就解釋給我聽,他們講的其中一點就是你可以穿漂亮的禮服在教堂結婚。</p>
<p>就是因爲這一點我對基督教開始産生了興趣。如果有朝一日我要在教堂裏結婚,我首先要加入教會。我就是這樣開始和我的鄰居一起去教堂,心想有一天我也可以在教堂結婚,對具體的宗教教義我倒並不太在意。在去了幾年教堂之後,我發現教堂並不只是這些。他們教你怎樣做一個正直的人,這對我的影響非常大。</p>
<p>問:你是說在你來這裏的時候,因爲你的宗教信仰,你來的時候已經有了精神支柱,所以這些促使你去努力學習和做善事,不會讓你有太多的麻煩。你沒有加入幫派,在你---</p>
<p>葉:是的。我認爲的確是這種情況。至少我的一些朋友離開了學校,他們輟學了,沒有再繼續讀下去,因爲他們沒有父母親人的精神支援。但對於我,我也沒有父母或家人的支援,但我的確有教會的支援,我管他們叫兄弟姐妹,他們會鼓勵我,每當我情緒低落需要幫助的時候,他們就會給我打氣,向我伸出援助之手。</p>
<p>我想是因爲我的信心使我不斷地進步,因爲我只學了兩年的英文就上了這裏的大學,這是非常非常不容易的,你差不多每個字都要查字典。因此,如果一個美國學生需要學習兩個小時,我差不多需要花六個小時,因爲我的語言障礙。</p>
<p>但因爲我的信仰,因爲基督教和信上帝,我經常禱告,每次考試的時候,我也禱告。每當我遇到困難,我也禱告,祈禱上帝幫助我,這的確對我有很大的幫助。當我努力掙紮,生活上遇到困難時,<br>

我也請求上帝幫助我。就是這種動力使我不斷努力不斷進步。</p>
<p>問:你在CUNY學的是什麽專業?</p>
<p>葉:我學的是心理學,因爲我想更多地瞭解一下我自己。我覺得自己就是一個謎。有的時候我不太懂得爲什麽我會那麽想,或爲什麽做那個決定。所以我特別想更多地發掘一下我自己---爲什麽我就是我,想更多地瞭解一下我自己。</p>
<p>這就是我選這個專業的初衷,但當我學了一段時間之後,我開始意識到心理學不但可以幫助我本人,還可以幫助其他人,於是我就一直學這個專業並拿了這個專業的學位。</p>
<p>問:在CUNY讀了四年之後,你的第一份工作是什麽?</p>
<p>葉:實際上,在我畢業前不久,我申請了唐人街YMCA的一份工作,是做預防專案的病例策劃,這個專案是爲了幫助那些跟ACS(Administration for Children’s Service)和Center for Children’s Services有麻煩的家庭,或在家庭法院有糾紛的家庭,或其他一些需要幫助的家庭,比如他們的孩子已經輟學,或在輟學邊緣,不知道要加入幫派還是繼續讀書。</p>
<p>這是我所感興趣的工作,因爲我幾年前也曾經歷過這些,現在看到其他青少年沒有心思上學,在街上閒逛。我就是想幫助他們,讓他們意識到生活並不只是在街上尋開心。你可以做更多的事情。使他們的家庭團結起來,共同合作。就這樣,我剛開始是唐人街YMCA預防專案的病例策劃者。</p>
<p>問:我知道你並不是移民來紐約的。但從很多方面來看,你是美國移民,然而你跟其他的人不同,因爲大多數的移民來到這裏之後非常努力地工作學習,他們想賺很多的錢。<br>

在你看來,是什麽促使你當一個社會工作者,正如你剛才所講,在你很小的時候就想付出。</p>
<p>葉:是的,我想這是一個非常好的問題。你說得沒錯。很多移民來這裏之後都想學一些能夠賺錢的技能,比如金融,電腦,或電子工程。我覺得這很正常,因爲他們來自一個非常拘束窮困的環境。儘管我也來自那種環境,貧窮,受限制,當我來美國的時候,我只是想學習更多的知識,受些教育。</p>
<p>但在此同時,在我腦子裏,我也想變得富有。我也想賺錢。但因爲我有去教堂,我看到教會裏的人無償無條件地幫助別人。他們幫助你不是因爲你會償還他們,他們幫助你是因爲你的需要。而且,他們幫助別人後很開心,這也是聖經教導你去做的事情。即是,付出要比得到好。這些正好和我的宗教背景相關聯,這使我懂得金錢並不是一切,通過幫助別人、使別人快樂,你自己也會開心的。有一些事物金錢也買不到,比如快樂。</p>
<p>因此,我意識到要幫助別人,沒有必要賺很多的錢,但在我心裏以及我的生活裏,我覺得是受到了補償或獎賞,因爲看到一個破裂的家庭又重新和好團聚,這是金錢所買不到的。這就是我喜歡自己所做的事情的原因。</p>
<p>問:你的家裏是否也支援你做這些?他們沒有要求你寄錢回去嗎?寄錢給家裏?帶他們離開中國?</p>
<p>葉:沒有,實際上我家裏從來沒有給過我什麽壓力,因爲他們已經不在中國了。我的哥哥姐姐有的在巴拿馬,在西班牙有一個哥哥,還有一個姐姐在佛羅裏達。他們在世界各地。他們全離開了中國。除了我父親,我父親不想出去,他喜歡自己的老家。但我想這對他也好,他熟悉自己的鄰居和那裏的環境,而且我們也尊重這些,我們尊重他的選擇,<br>

所以我沒有什麽壓力,他們也有提過錢之類的要求,因爲我是家裏最小的,所以他們對我的期望也不大。你懂我的意思嗎?我覺得這樣很好。你有哥哥姐姐,他們都在照顧父母,資助父母,這樣我就沒有什麽負擔了。</p>
<p>問:你畢業後的第一份工作是在唐人街的YMCA,那你工作上接觸的主要是年輕人嗎?</p>
<p>葉:主要是有孩子的家庭,正如我剛才所講,他們或者是跟ACS有麻煩,因爲文化差異或是語言障礙,父母管教孩子不當,導致學校或輔導員跟Administration for Children’s Service聯繫,因爲他們擔心會有虐待兒童或忽視兒童的危險。我們就是這樣介入的,我們大多數的病例來自ACS,是ACS推薦來的,主要的準則是你必須讓孩子待在家裏,然後我們做他們的工作,因爲這就是預防的含義,幫助那些家裏有小孩的家庭。</p>
<p>問:能不能給我們舉一些病例,因爲作爲一個在美國長大的中國人我知道美國人對虐待的理解同中國家庭有時有一些誤解。能否給我們舉一些中國父母管教孩子的例子,而美國老師卻認爲孩子是在家裏受虐待。</p>
<p>葉:比如在中國,我也來自中國,我也是由父母帶大的,我知道在中國你父母打你是因爲他們愛護你。他們糾正你是因爲他們關心你。這就是中國移民的觀念和哲學。沒有什麽法律規定你因爲打你的孩子就要受到懲罰,別人就會叫警察或ACS。在中國就沒有這些,那時還沒有這個意識。他們認爲孩子是受你管教,那是你的責任,如果你管教不好他們,以後他們成了社會上的壞人,這是父母的過錯,這也就是父母打他們或管教他們的原因。你說的打就是體罰,他們也許是用竹棍子打他們,<br>

想管教他們,想幫助他們,避免他們以後再做壞事情。</p>
<p>比如,有這麽一家人來到美國,有一個孩子不想上學,因爲他們認爲上學太辛苦,而且他們又不講英文,他們經常取笑他。於是他決定不去學校。那孩子的父親知道他這麽小的年紀就不讀書,他才有十三歲,如果不去讀書在美國就沒有前途。你不講這裏的語言,你不講英文,你又不去上學,這就好象是違法一樣。當然他們也不懂得什麽法律,但他們知道孩子需要讀書,而且希望孩子能夠讀書,學英文,將來才會有更好的生活,不至於像他們一樣在衣廠或餐館辛苦工作,他們希望孩子能夠過得比他們好。</p>
<p>但孩子就是不想去學校,父親爲了管教他而打了孩子,當然孩子就舉報了,因爲他告訴了一個朋友,那個朋友又告訴了老師,老師便打電話給ACS,然後ACS就來了,想把孩子帶走,我們就是這樣介入的,想幫助這個家庭,瞭解一下情況。我們給ACS的工作人員翻譯,有很多ACS的工作人員都不講中文。這大概是五、六年前的事情,那時沒有很多的亞裔在ACS工作。</p>
<p>就這樣,我們幫助他們瞭解文化差異,父親想幫助孩子,但法律規定打孩子是錯誤的,這就是爲什麽我們要把你的孩子帶走,這件事就這樣被ACS知道了,因爲有人向ACS舉報了。我個人認爲,每個國家都有他們自己的法律,都有他們自己的制度。他們現在生活的國家,美國,有保護孩子的法律,當然他們有權做他們必須做的事情,但作爲家長,他們並不懂得法律,這就是欠缺的地方,沒有對家長教育的環節。這就需要我們介入來開展教育工作,即所謂的家教技巧,<br>

或家教技巧訓練。我們要教導家長他們在中國教育孩子的方式在美國行不通。如果你仍舊用老一套的方式來管教你的孩子,在美國你就要觸犯法律。</p>
<p>就是這樣,那個家庭開始懂得這些,他們也已經改正了自己的行爲。他們說,我們關心自己的孩子,我們愛護自己的孩子,但是打孩子是違反法律的,因此他們不會再這樣做了。他們想讓我們給那些家庭提供服務,做家長的工作,也做孩子的工作,教育雙方,讓他們知道對方的立場,父母的期待和孩子的努力。因爲缺少交流,父母不知道孩子有很多的壓力和困難,校方也努力溝通,努力理解。父母所看到的只是孩子沒有去上學是錯誤的。所以,這是一個溝通的問題,這是病例之一。</p>
<p>這是一個典型的例子,因爲即使是現在,很多的家庭仍然存在這個問題。今年,成千上萬的新移民來到這個社區,但這些教育宣傳並不是每天都有,所以人們必須要受到這方面的教育才能解決這類問題。</p>
<p>問:你認爲一個新移民家庭在唐人街住和在一個中國人比較少的社區住,比如郊區,會有很大不同嗎?先到唐人街是不是會使他們更加容易融入美國生活?</p>
<p>葉:就我自己的經驗來看,我認爲唐人街是一塊墊腳石。這會使他們更加容易適應,因爲整個社區都是講中文,他們在購物時也能買到他們想要買的食品,吃到中餐,而且在交通方面,這裏地方也不大。在唐人街,你完全可以步行,所有的地方都很近。這樣會使他們更加容易適應新的環境。</p>
<p>在孩子的就學方面,這裏有雙語或ESL(英語作爲第二語言)班,<br>

爲他們提供語言幫助,儘管他們有些來到這裏時還不會講英文,這會使他們進步得更快。但在紐約的唐人街居住也有一個不利的方面,即是居住問題。這裏的居住空間是非常有限的。越來越多的人來到這裏,但這裏的住房條件還是沒有太大的改變,所以大家不得不擠在一起。於是,一個四口之家會住在同一間房,因爲你的姑姑移民過來但沒有其他地方可去,便和你們住在一起,因此,現在是八個人住在一間有兩個臥室的房間,居住環境很擁擠。這是唯一的不利因素。</p>
<p>但到外州,因爲中國人視紐約市爲“州”,離開紐約市就是外州。就好象“中國”是國家的中心,或中央國家的意思一樣,凡是中國之外都是外國。所以,如果剛到美國的新移民馬上搬到郊區去住,他們會遇到更多的困難,首先,比如說在新澤西或康州的郊區,你如果家不住在超市的旁邊,你必須開車去超市購物。</p>
<p>但很多新移民沒有駕照,他們的英語也不流利,還不能考駕照。對於一個來自中國的農民來講,開車可能是一個很大的挑戰,他們甚至也許還不會騎自行車,然後現在你讓他們開汽車。在孩子的就學方面,學校裏大多數都是白人,這會給他們造成很大的困難,因爲並不是每一間學校都有ESL或雙語的課程。那麽,如果移民到這裏後不久就入學的話,他們會面臨很多困難。就我本人來講,我剛到巴拿馬後就進了學校,後來又不得不退學,在學了一年半的語言之後才又重返學校,是同樣的經歷。我認識的很多家庭是把孩子留在紐約,然後他們去外州打工,因爲這裏工作機會有限,這樣他們把孩子留給親屬照看,有時是朋友,他們在外面工作支援家庭。</p>
<p>
當我問他們爲什麽不把孩子帶在身邊,他們說因爲當地的教育系統,他們的孩子很難適應那裏的學校。這是一個非常棘手的問題。這對整個家庭也是一個挑戰。特別是對於唐人街的新移民家庭,他們來到這裏要面對很多各種各樣的挑戰。</p>
<p>問:就你的觀察,在來唐人街的移民的比例上,有多少人真正在這裏長期待了下來,還是說,他們一旦掌握了語言和工作技能就離開了?</p>
<p>葉:就我本人過去十年或十五年在唐人街的觀察,我在這裏的確待了很長時間,差不多有十五年了,唐人街有了很大的變化。十五年前的唐人街大多是臺山人和廣東人,你去菜市買菜必須要講廣東話。如果你不講廣東話,買菜就會有很多麻煩,因爲他們聽不懂你講的,你也聽不懂他們講的。</p>
<p>但在十年後,情況有所改變。唐人街整個的社區結構發生了變化。瞭解唐人街的人都知道,發展非常迅速的團體是福建人社區。他們大批地湧入,從東到Bowery,南到Houston,北到Catherine,佔據了大半唐人街。因爲福建人的湧入,這一帶的臺山人和廣東人不得不遷出,因爲需求不斷造成房價的持續高漲。</p>
<p>因此,很多在這裏住的時間長一些的人不得不搬走,或者搬到康州,或新澤西,或布魯克林,有一些搬到了皇后區,當前有一些人開始搬到史丹頓島。你需要,正如我所講,新移民的第一塊墊腳石。在我上高中的時候,那是在十五年以前,一位中國老師就說過,如果你能在這裏待下去的話,你此時就不會在唐人街住了。意思是說,<br>

你如果有了英語技能,有了駕照,有了一些錢,你就會搬到康州或新澤西的郊區,或布魯克林、法拉盛。你沒有必要再待在唐人街,因爲用同樣的錢去租房,你會租到三個臥室的房間,而在唐人街你只能租到一間單臥室的房間。那你爲什麽還會待在唐人街呢?</p>
<p>問:如果你說唐人街的房租有這麽貴的話,那那些新移民怎麽會有錢住在唐人街呢?</p>
<p>葉:這就是問題的關鍵,因爲唐人街的房租貴到別人都租不起,所以他們只好合租一套房間。並不是他們想要這樣,而是因爲經濟原因,房租很貴,以至於一家人根本就支付不起。舉例來講,唐人街的一間兩臥室的房間需要一千五百或一千八百塊錢。一家四口人,父親母親都工作,孩子上學。父親在一家餐館打工,母親在衣廠上班。你知道在衣廠裏你能賺多少錢嗎?有的時候有工做,你能掙四十塊錢,如果服裝業景氣,你能輕鬆賺到八十塊錢。但一旦服裝業不景氣或沒有太多的活兒做,你也許一天只能賺二十塊錢,甚至沒有工做的時候一天只能賺十塊錢。</p>
<p>因此,對一個家庭來講,賺足夠的錢來支付房租是一件困難的事情。這還是說沒有考慮吃和其他的費用。所以,他們只好把房間的兩間臥室分開,把其中一間租出去,與另外一家共用起居室和廚房,他們每家只付九百塊錢。這樣,他們只能勉強在這種環境下居住。一家四口人必須擠在同一間臥室。沒有任何隱私。這樣的環境非常非常艱苦,我們看到很多很多的家庭不得不這樣做。</p>
<p>
但如果你是單身,一間兩臥室的房間可以住八個人,或十個人。房間裏會擺滿雙層床。瞭解唐人街的人都知道這些。所以,他們不是租臥室,而是租床位。這樣他們才能支付得起房租。</p>
<p>問:那爲什麽在近十多年有這麽多福建人來紐約?他們也去美國的其他地方嗎?他們也去其他國家,還是說他們就是想離開中國來紐約?</p>
<p>葉:1994年,政府部門估計美國有十萬福建人,紐約的唐人街是他們首選的地方,是所有福建人的第一選擇。在那時,1994年,發生了Golden Venture事件,從那時開始,政府官員才開始關注這個團體。在此之前,他們沒有太注意這些,除非哪個當地、市里的政府官員或警察彙報說這個社區有很多營利什麽的。</p>
<p>但在1994年,他們估計在美國有十萬人口,而且大多數都在紐約市,這裏是他們的首選,別忘了我們講過,他們管紐約市以外都叫做外州。因此,紐約是福建人的基地。你可以看到,東百老彙,怡東樓,東百老彙的東面商場,東百老彙88號,是這個社區的根據地。大多數人剛來的時候,他們先到這裏來找工作,聯繫職業介紹所,幫助他們到不同的地方去,安排交通等。</p>
<p>當然,十年之前還沒有這些,不太多。但他們在紐約市有很大的機構,有很多福建人的協會,這裏是他們的總部。他們來的時候,這裏是他們第一塊墊腳石。</p>
<p>
的確有一些人離開了紐約市,因爲這裏的工作機會有限。大多數從福建來的男人在餐館做工,大多數婦女是衣廠工人。因此,很多一起到這裏來的夫婦要分開,丈夫要在外面打工,視工作地點遠近,每星期回家一兩次。如果你在田納西或俄亥俄州打工,你可能每月才回家一兩次,要看情況。</p>
<p>人們到外面去是因爲沒有工作。尤其在9/11之後,很多人搬出紐約市因爲找不到工作,沒有什麽工作機會。很多衣廠都關閉了,他們只好全家搬到外州或把孩子留下,妻子和丈夫一同在餐館做工。</p>
<p>問:我有這種印象,我想很多人也都有這種印象,即福建人社區比較封閉。如果你不講福州話,你很難融入他們的社區。是不是這樣?因爲這個因素,你是否認爲他們同唐人街那些廣東人或北方人相比更加團結?</p>
<p>葉:我想是這樣的。福建人本身是一個非常獨特的社區和團體。如果你瞭解福建的歷史的話,即使在一千年前的中國,他們就形成自己的一個團體,福建的地形就好象是一口鍋,又大又寬,什麽都有,他們靠海,有港口,那裏也有河,也有耕田。他們已經處於依山傍海的流域。這些人非常親近因爲他們都講福州話,除了兒童要上學學習普通話以外,這是他們日常生活使用的語言。</p>
<p>在村子裏和家裏,他們都講福州話。除了語言方面,他們來美國的方式同他們在一起互相幫助也有很大關係。因爲在八十年代初,儘管有一些是移民來這裏,大部分的福建人是沒有經過正常的手續偷渡來的。因爲他們不相信政府,即使在中國福建。<br>

在政府和普通農民家庭老百姓之間也缺乏信任。所以,在他們來到這裏的時候,他們不知道該相信誰。他們最不想打交道的就是政府,因爲他們以前同中國政府打交道的經歷。</p>
<p>但來到一個不講福州話的地方,他們不懂當地的語言。如果你只講普通話或福州話,去廣東人開的菜市買菜就會有一定的困難。他們可能不會賣給你。我以前在街上曾經看到,有的講普通話的人去菜市買菜,賣菜的讓他們去別的店,不賣給他們,因爲不能溝通。因此,並不是說他們是一個非常封閉的社區。只不過是他們不想,或沒有機會到處逛,他們不知道外面是什麽樣的。</p>
<p>比如,很多福建人是文盲,沒有受過教育。很多人甚至不會寫自己的名字。我從1996年大學畢業後一直在福建社區工作。我有很多福建客人,後來我到另外一個機構工作,是一個Lutheran辦事處。我們的客人大多數是福建人,我因此有些機會瞭解他們。我本人不是福建人,但我能夠爲他們服務,因爲我瞭解他們的文化,懂得他們的奮鬥。語言障礙是一個不利之處,但他們把你當作是想幫助他們的人。當他們這樣認爲的時候,他們當然會把你當作自己人來看待。</p>
<p>很多時候,我認爲一些人會說,“那些福建人很抱團,因此我們很難幫助他們。”這就好象在講,“我不想解決這個問題,因爲這個問題太嚴重了。”但如果你認真地看待和考慮這些的時候,你會發現其實即使你不是福建人,你也能做很多事情。甚至福建人之間也不都是相互信任,他們也並不是對任何人都敞開心懷的。</p>
<p>
問:你認爲他們不相信廣東人嗎?其他的中國人,不單是美國政府和法律,以及其他他們不熟悉的事物?他們是否相信唐人街其他的中國人?</p>
<p>葉:我想他們對廣東人不是一個信不信任的問題。在政府方面,的確是這個問題,因爲正如我所講他們來自另外一個不同的政府系統。但在廣東人方面,我覺得他們視其爲一種競爭。也許你還記得我談到,或是我們談到,十年或十五年前的唐人街差不多都是臺山人和廣東人的天下。這裏到處都是衣廠和生意,那些廣東人來了之後努力工作,賺了很多錢。他們每個星期都會賺幾百、一千塊錢,要看他們所在的衣廠。但在最近的十年、十五年裏,越來越多的福建人湧入。這塊餅還是這麽大,但越來越多的人來這裏,都想找工作,使得工作市場的餅在這種工作環境下越來越緊張。如果你瞭解衣廠運作的話,你會知道,如果你工作效率高,你會賺更多的錢,會製造出更多的服裝。如果你做得不快,工作效率低,那要按你工作的時間來計酬。</p>
<p>那些福建人因爲是偷渡來的,他們在來的時候就欠了別人很多錢,有的是向家人借的錢,有的是親戚或朋友,因此,他們必須要努力工作。那麽,別人從九點工作到五點,他們差不多要從早上八點幹到晚上八點。這使得廣東人和福建人之間的關係非常緊張。很多時候,你在衣廠會聽到,“那些福建人搶了我們的工作,因爲那些福建人,我們錢都沒有以前賺得多了。”記得在十多年前,報紙上講福建女工必須整夜在衣廠做工,她們每天只能睡三、四個小時。並不是她們想要這樣。大多時候,老闆要求她們必須要完成工作。而且,她們也想賺更多的錢。這裏有雙方的因素。但那些廣東人不可能整夜或一連做十二、十四小時的工。<br>

福建人工作要更加努力,因爲他們是借錢偷渡來的,而那些廣東人都是移民來的,有身份。</p>
<p>問:從香港---</p>
<p>葉:從香港,或臺山地區。但很多福建人來的時候沒有身份,他們在來的時候已經欠別人幾---,比如說兩、三萬塊錢。他們必須要還帳,這使得他們拼命地工作。這也有道理。</p>
<p>因此,這個因素使社區本身産生很多衝突,直到現在還是這樣。</p>
<p>問:你是否覺得福建社區不太受歡迎,因爲他們在某種程度上壓低了工資,造成更多的競爭。他們的勞動力要比你剛才所講的那些多年前從香港或臺山來的移民廉價得多。因爲他們給唐人街帶來更多的競爭,所有的東西都比以前便宜。這使得另一社區對福建社區産生一些怨恨,比如汽車票價這麽便宜,造成唐人街的很多衝突和競爭。很多汽車公司是福建人開的,對不對?</p>
<p>葉:是的。我認爲怨恨主要是來自華人社區裏的其他人,在福建人和講廣東話的社區之間。在衣廠的工資方面,正如我所講,我在這裏待了十五年了,親眼目睹了這些變化,我關心這個社區,我去教堂,結識了各種各樣的人,他們對社區裏工作結構發生的變化也有同感。所以,通過看到和聽到人們的所作所爲,我對這兩大社區都有一定的瞭解。而且,在七年前,我開始在這個社區工作,發現這個問題越來越嚴重。</p>
<p>
怨恨當然是最主要的想法,因爲如果一個衣廠老闆花四十塊錢可以請人做一百件衣服,那他爲什麽要花六十塊錢請廣東人?因此,他們當然會雇工錢只有四十塊錢的福建人。這就是我所講的工作競爭。</p>
<p>假設勞動力市場競爭很激烈,工資水平在降低,但房價卻越來越高。於是,人們會産生怨恨之情。我們住在這裏,比如說,廣東人會講,我們花六百塊錢租兩個臥室的房間,現在福建人來了之後我們要付八百塊,因爲房東提高房租,想把他們轟走,然後把房子租給福建人收更高的租金。</p>
<p>這顯然是一個問題。但我認爲這並不是福建人的過錯,他們沒有要求更低的工資,但是他們沒有其他的方法賺錢還債。他們只能出賣勞動力。我想這裏也有雇主的因素。再比如,爲什麽很多美國的産業和生意沒有留在美國,卻都轉移到中國、印度?因爲成本。</p>
<p>在中國,你能花一塊錢做一雙鞋,但在美國也是一塊錢做一雙鞋,但這有很大的不同,因爲一美元等於八塊人民幣。這有很大的差別。所以,這全部是生意上的考慮。但我想,社區也因此遭受了損失。</p>
<p>問:跟我們講一下你現在的工作。你是負責人嗎?</p>
<p>葉:是的,移民事務的負責人。</p>
<p>問:是在這裏---</p>
<p>葉:在新生命中心。</p>
<p>
問:請介紹一下新生命中心。你們中心的宗旨是什麽?</p>
<p>葉:這個Lutheran社區服務新生命中心是在一年半前成立的。剛才我也有提過,是在9/11前不久。我的主辦公室離世貿中心只有兩個街口,在9/11的時候,部分撞到世貿中心的客機的機翼尖兒落到我們主辦公室的大樓,所以那座大樓不得不關閉。之後,行政人員和職員就搬到我們的辦公室,那時我們是在Christopher Street, Greenwich Village。他們搬到我們的辦公室後,我們沒有其他辦法,在那之後的一年就搬到布魯克林辦公。</p>
<p>我們在那個期間沒有太多的事務,只是繼續做自己的工作,用不同的方式來幫助福建社區。但在那之後不久,我們越來越多地從我們的客人那裏,從社區領導那裏,從教會和社區那裏瞭解到他們沒有受到太多的幫助,沒有從9/11的救濟金裏獲得足夠的補償和資助。在9/11之後,有很多的專案,比如針對居住在受害區內受到創傷的人有抵押租金幫助,人們可以申請9/11醫療保險,接受9/11ESL班的培訓,上英文課還能夠領每個星期三百塊錢的補助,如果你失業---</p>
<p>這些幫助了很多家庭支付房租或購買食品。錢一定會有幫助。而且,上完ESL課程之後,你還可以再接受七個星期的職業培訓,學一些在衣廠工作或簡單勞動以外的技能。他們可以學一些烹飪或其他的技能。</p>
<p>但那些福建人似乎不知道發生了什麽事情,外面有什麽情況。當我問Safe Horizon,如果你對此有瞭解的話,Safe Horizon是負責9/11基金發放的機構。如果您想獲得9/11專案的補償,你必須要通過Safe Horizon,一個補償分配的機構。當你在那裏登記的時候,<br>

你會獲得一張白卡,上面記有你的姓名和基本資訊。你可以用這張白卡申請醫療保險,不管你有沒有身份,你也可以報名參加ESL培訓班和職業培訓班。但當我們問他們在此之後的一年裏有多少福建人參加了這個專案。令人驚訝的是,具Safe Horizon記載,在9/11之後只有一少部分福建人參加了這個專案。</p>
<p>我們非常驚訝,因爲這個社區在這裏已經有很長時間了。如果政府部門的預計準確的話,在1994年就已經有十萬,每年又有一萬新人湧入,紐約又是他們最主要的目的地。如果只是算一半福建人的話,紐約市,從1994年到2002年,應該有一萬八千人,加上已有的十八萬福建人,再減半,比如說在紐約市周圍有九萬,至少有九萬人。假如並不是全部九萬人都住在曼哈頓唐人街地區,我們只算一半,那麽就是說唐人街有四萬五千個福建人,這是最---</p>
<p>[第一盤第一面結束,第一盤第二面開始]</p>
<p>問:那你是說在9/11之後,儘管福建社區是唐人街的一個很大的社區,而且他們離Ground Zero也非常近,你覺得只有一少部分人申請9/11的救濟金是令人驚訝的。</p>
<p>是不是因爲---,這些基金---,我有兩個問題。是不是凡是符合標準的人都能申請這些基金,無論有沒有身份,因爲你先前講過很多福建人是偷渡來的。是不是有這部分的原因他們才沒有去理會,害怕申請之後會因爲身份問題被政府追查?還是因爲他們因文化、語言或<br>

其他的因素比較孤立,不知道或不懂得怎樣申請?究竟是什麽原因呢?</p>
<p>葉:我想正如你所講,問題的關鍵與你剛才提出的兩點都有關。我先談一下第一個問題。</p>
<p>華人社區裏的很多福建人都是偷渡來的。但是他們當中也有一大部分是親屬申請移民來的。並不只是那些非法的福建移民沒有得到社區裏9/11的救濟和福利,那些有身份的家庭也沒有得到。這是我們從社區領導、社區民衆、教會和我們認識的人那裏知道的。這樣,我們才意識到那些需要救濟但沒有身份的人是怕他們申請後政府會查他們。</p>
<p>問:這是不是真的?那個基金---</p>
<p>葉:不是。9/11基金是通過FEMA(Federal Emergency Management)設立的專案,申請者必須要證明自己的身份。但其他很多的專案或服務提供的9/11基金是由紅十字會,Salvation Army,以及我們廣大民衆資助的,這些機構捐贈了上百萬美金設立了這個基金會來幫助受害者。這些錢並不全是政府出的錢,是幫助爲了那些需要幫助的人,與有沒有身份無關。只要你符合條件,需要幫助,你就可以領到救濟。</p>
<p>但這個問題有兩個方面。其一,那些偷渡來的大多沒有受過教育,不知道都有什麽救濟金,申請條件是什麽,申請或不申請會對他們有什麽影響。他們好象什麽都不知道。</p>
<p>第二點,同那些有身份的一樣。那些有身份的也不知道到底可以申請什麽。有些人認爲這些不是給他們的。因爲,<br>

如果你瞭解華人社區組成的話,我認爲這同你提出的第二個問題有關。第一個問題是他們不知道。第二個問題是爲什麽他們不知道。如果你瞭解社區結構---</p>
<p>在唐人街我們有幾家中文報紙,其中只有一、兩家使用簡體中文。大多數報紙都是用繁體字印刷的。但對於那些在中國看慣了簡體中文的福建人,他們到這裏後發現買的報紙都是用繁體字印刷的。這就好象讓只懂英文的人看西班牙文報紙。那他們能不能看懂呢?像“廣告”,“電視”一些詞還能夠看懂。但你認爲他們能夠看懂整份報紙嗎?不可能,即使字是非常相近,有的甚至是一模一樣的。</p>
<p>問:是不是因爲這兩份主要的報紙是臺灣和香港人辦的,在這兩個地方人們都是用繁體字?</p>
<p>葉:是的。報紙上有很多資訊,告訴你去哪里申請什麽,但那三大主要報刊,世界日報、星島日報、明報使用的都是繁體字。因此,福建人都不知道上面有什麽資訊。在電臺方面,我們有1480(AM),在9/11之後,1480剛剛開播,24小時播音。他們也做了很多宣傳,人們捐款設立了什麽基金,你可以去哪些地方申請救濟。但那些福建人根本聽不懂。</p>
<p>問:因爲是用廣東話廣播的。</p>
<p>葉:是的。他們是用廣東話廣播的,這是我們唯一一個24小時播音的華語電臺。你可以想象那些福建人看不懂,聽不懂,又不能和廣東人交流。難怪他們都不知道嘛。這是問題之一。</p>
<p>
另外一個問題是,當我們去見FEMA和New York Disaster Response Unit,以及其他主要負責機構反映福建社區的需要時,當我們問及他們是否知道福建社區沒有得到重視、被忽視的時候,他們顯得很驚訝,很不理解。他們說,我們劃撥了這麽多錢給華人社區的服務機構。那些華人社區的組織都講如果我們給他們錢他們會幫助華人社區。他們拿到錢之後,就應該把錢分給中國人。他們指的是所有的中國人,還是部分中國人?我們就是這樣在一次開會的時候認識了剛才你提過的官員,Charlie Lai。我們的問題是,福建人屬不屬於華人社區的?屬於。福建社區是不是也是在受害區域內?是的。但爲什麽他們沒有分到呢?這同華人社區其他的人不一樣,因爲他們不講廣東話。</p>
<p>問:那他們講普通話嗎?</p>
<p>葉:是的,有一些也講普通話。如果你調查一下唐人街社區機構的組成,你會發現大多數華人組織是廣東人負責的。大多數員工都講廣東話。下面的職員也許講普通話,但如果你問他們是否講福州話,不會,我們沒有會講福州話的。</p>
<p>舉個例子,我知道9/11基金撥了一些款給社區機構,然後這個機構又把一部分錢給了當地的華人組織。華人社區組織於是雇了一些人組成一個小組,幫助華人社區。就這些他們新請的人,我們問有多少員工講福州話,沒有。有多少人講普通話?兩個。<br>

你們有沒有開展對福建社區的服務?沒有。爲什麽?因爲他們的辦公地點都在西邊,而那些福建人都住在唐人街東邊。</p>
<p>在某種程度上,社區---我本人是廣東人。我對廣東人沒有任何偏見。但正因爲我是廣東人,我能看到正反兩方面,我聽得懂華語電臺裏的廣播,或通過別人、廣東員工瞭解到福建社區。但問題是,如果他們爲整個華人社區申請到了錢,他們應該多做些工作把錢儘量分發給整個華人社區,而不是華人社區的一部分。他們實在是害苦了福建人。</p>
<p>因此,如果你們沒有會講福州話或能夠跟他們交流的員工,那些福建人會怎麽樣?他們當然聽不懂。那麽,因爲這個問題,那些華人社區的機構不能和福建社區交流,又沒有做特別的努力去照顧福建社區,這樣就會形成一條鴻溝。幾年前,Asian-American Federation做了一項調查,顯示福建社區裏只有1.56%的福建人有初中以上的文憑。可以想象98.44%的福建人只有初中或更低的教育程度,也就是說,他們大部分都是文盲。那你怎樣才能和社區裏的文盲交流呢?靠口頭上的宣傳。</p>
<p>所以,我們看到這裏有很大的鴻溝。即使是在9/11發生的一年之後,2002年11月,我們從布魯克林又搬到這裏。我們就是這樣開始的。因爲我們意識到這條鴻溝,在我們搬到這個社區時,我們就有意識地想添補這條鴻溝。我們已經爲福建社區服務了七年之多,我們得到了他們的信任,我們和他們已經建立了這種關係。而且,作爲華人社區的組織,我們屬於Lutheran。這是一個很大的機構。他們知道我們在幫助他們,他們知道我們是教會,是有信仰的組織,他們知道我們想幫助他們,而不是要害他們。</p>
<p>
所以,在搬進來的時候,我們首先製作了宣傳單,發給人們。宣傳單是用簡體字印刷的,就是那些只受過很少教育的人也能夠看懂。傳單上向他們介紹我們是什麽樣的機構,我們的宗旨是什麽,我們提供的服務有哪些。就是這樣在社區裏擴大影響,後來陸續就有福建人到我們這裏來,十個、二十個。</p>
<p>在一年之內,從2002年11月到2003年11月,我們的目標是幫助一百個家庭,因爲我們只從紐約Lutheran Disaster Response,即LDRNY,得到一小部分款項。我們只得到很少的款項來開始這個專案,開始的時候才有兩個人。爲了幫助這個社區,我們請了福建的員工,主要負責宣傳教育工作。我們就是這樣開始的,逐漸有了一些客人,三個月後我們已經有了四百個客人。在第九個月,有一千兩百個。比我們預計或計劃服務的人數多很多。可見這個社區的需求很大。</p>
<p>問:這個教會幫助所有的人,不光是福建人。</p>
<p>葉:是的。教會本身是廣東的教會,我們利用從LDRNY申請到的款項服務福建社區,因爲已經有服務廣東社區的社區組織,“已經”是因爲他們也講廣東話,他們服務那個社區已經有很長時間,但是福建人卻什麽也沒有。就好象9/11的灰塵還在覆蓋著這個社區。人們還是看不到這個社區的需要,或者即使看到,他們也並不關心。這就是爲什麽當我同Charlie Lai談到這個社區的需要的時候,他也是非常贊同。我管他們叫做“需要更多幫助的社區”,Charlie Lai稱其爲“沒有得到幫助的社區”。這是非常現實的,爲什麽一年之後,有一千、一萬多個廣東人已經拿到了白卡,已經完成了各種培訓,已經得到了所有的幫助、救濟金,已經得到抵押租金幫助---一切他們能夠申請的,他們都已經申請了。<br>

他們甚至申請了空氣清新器和空調,所有他們能夠申請的,他們都已經申請了。那些福建人還不知道社區裏發生了什麽事情。這就是爲什麽我稱其爲“沒有得到幫助的社區”。</p>
<p>問:看起來主要的問題還是語言。它把福建社區孤立了起來,在我看來,也許他們不單要學習英文,還要學習廣東話。有沒有人想過要這樣做,這樣那些福建人會更加融入唐人街?</p>
<p>葉:你是說,讓他們不單學習英文,還要學---</p>
<p>問:一點廣東話。</p>
<p>葉:廣東話。</p>
<p>問:這樣他們可以更好地在唐人街生存。</p>
<p>葉:是的,但讓我問你一個問題。在唐人街,有多少家廣東餐館,多少家福建餐館?假如所有的美國人都搬到中國去,然後你跟中國講,你們應該學習英文,這樣你們才能夠和我們交流,你不認爲我們會有另外一種想法嗎?那些來唐人街的人大多數是打工的,或是老闆,而唐人街的居民大多數是福建人。想想看,爲什麽我們要要求福建人學廣東話來適應這裏,爲什麽不讓廣東人學普通話?我們還沒有要求他們學福州話。普通話是全國通用的語言---</p>
<p>問:中國的---</p>
<p>葉:中國的官方語言。每個中國公民都應該懂,如果你是美籍華人,你最好也要學<br>

普通話來幫助他們。對於那些剛剛來這裏的移民,比如福建人,他們已經在爲生存而掙紮,現在你又讓他們學廣東話來適應這裏的環境。這就好象是向和尚要頭髮。這是非常非常困難的。我認爲那些社區機構有義務幫助華人社區。當你去以任何方式幫助的時候,不要對那些向你求助的人說,在我們幫助你之前,你需要做些什麽事情。比如買菜,如果你想在我這裏買菜,你必須要先學廣東話。如果你不講廣東話,我不會把菜賣給你。我想這正好相反。這是做生意,對不對?所以,做生意的應該這樣想,如果我要做這個生意,我應該學普通話,這樣我才會有更多的顧客。</p>
<p>所以,就你剛才提出的問題,我想大概那些廣東社區的領導也是這樣考慮的。爲什麽他們不學廣東話?這是同樣的思維,但問題就在這裏,因爲這是一個很大的社區。保守地估計,至少也有四萬五千個福建人,你要要求他們全部學習廣東話,這是否有點不太實際?是的,的確很難。與其要求他們,不如讓提供幫助的人學習他們的語言來幫助他們。</p>
<p>我認爲這是這個社區的問題,而且同我們剛剛談到的廣東和福建社區的相互敵視也有關係。語言障礙是一個問題,但福建社區更加需要的是教育。如果這麽多的人都是文盲,那他們處理資訊的方式會很慢,或很不容易。所以,當你跟他們解釋他們申請的福利,9/11的福利,同政府沒有關係時,他們還是認爲是有關係的,那你又怎樣解除他們的顧慮呢?這很簡單,你教育他們,給他們一些確鑿的資訊。比如,我們請了律師,移民律師,我們讓移民律師給他們解釋,如果只是我們給他們解釋,他們只會消除一層顧慮,但他們還有法律上的擔心。從實際生活上來講,<br>

即使我申請了,這也許不會影響到我,而且這對我和我的家庭都有幫助。但是,在法律上怎樣消除這種顧慮呢?如果由專業人士,移民律師,來跟他們解釋美國法律的規定,他們就不會擔心了。</p>
<p>所以,在他們聽了律師的解釋後,他們的顧慮就全部消除了,於是就過來申請了。因此,基於和他們交流的方式,講他們能夠聽懂的話,使用他們能夠懂得的語言,安排合適的人跟他們解釋,通過講福州話的員工,或移民律師,這樣他們才知道沒有任何損失,因爲他們的確需要幫助。他們的家庭也存在各種各樣的危機,家庭暴力、虐待兒童事件越來越多,因爲夫婦都沒有工作,只好待在家裏。以前他們都有做工,每個星期只見一次面,沒有什麽好吵的,一切都很好。但現在失去了工作,家裏又不富裕,只有有限的積蓄,天天看到孩子,這産生了很多矛盾,並不是每一個人都知道該如何解決這樣的問題的。</p>
<p>因此,幫助他們從9/11相關的專案申請到幫助會減輕家庭裏的緊張。觀察到他們有這些需要之後,我們就開始提供這些服務來填平這個鴻溝。我們New Life Center在12月12日舉行了一次活動,到場的有一百多個來自社區、市里的民衆,以及聯邦、勞動部的官員。我們已經跟公衆宣佈,我們並不想競爭,只是想填溝架橋,這樣華人社區的組織可以通過我們幫助到福建社區。這就是我們要做的。直到現在,我們還是在這樣做,我們把上百個客人介紹給那些社區組織。在某種程度上,我們做一些篩選,他們必須懂普通話。那些組織有講普通話的員工,我們會把他們介紹給客人。當然,如果他們只講福州話,那些組織又沒有講福州話的員工,我們就沒有必要介紹給他們。我們只有有限的資源,能幫助他們的話,我們就會儘量幫助他們。</p>
<p>
問:你們現在是否還有9/11基金的資助?</p>
<p>葉:今天是3月11日---</p>
<p>問:11日---</p>
<p>葉:2004年---</p>
<p>問:4年---</p>
<p>葉:我們還有9/11基金的資助。我知道我們的專案曾一度終止過,因爲9/11基金剩下的錢不夠了。但自從我們設立了New Life Center開始爲福建社區服務,我們從LDNRY-一個私人機構,實際上是Lutheran基金會-得到的有限的資助開始,在一年之後,我們服務的人數遠遠超出了預計的數目。我們把這些問題反映到了9/11基金會,他們也意識到這個社區被忽視了。於是,他們從去年開始又撥給我們一些錢。當今年他們讓我們再提交建議的時候,我們又這樣做了,然後他們又提供了資助。因爲這些資助,我們才得以繼續幫助這些沒有得到幫助的人。</p>
<p>問:你是否認爲在唐人街不同的機構、組織之間缺乏溝通?還是說沒有一個有力的領導來帶領整個社區?</p>
<p>葉:從政治和社區角度來看,我認爲我們很明顯缺乏,正如你所講,一個有力的領導。我認爲這是一個團結的問題。經過這麽多的變化,唐人街的人口已經形成了好幾個部分。第一,是從各個區來這裏上班的人,這裏包括很多不住在這裏的業主。再有就是唐人街的居民,餐館業很大部分是福建社區。<br>

但福建移民社區來到這個國家的時間不長,他們不知道法律規定如何。他們很難進入政治舞臺,但很多廣東人在這裏待了很長時間,他們知道怎樣反映華人社區的問題。但大多時候,我們的觀點有分歧。在過去,我們唐人街有競選市議員的候選人。我們一共有三位候選人在同一個社區拉選票。但最終沒有一個勝出,那到底是誰贏了?聽說這次又是Ellen Garson被選上了。從唐人街的歷史上看,我認爲我們應該好好反省,要認真想一想唐人街最大的利益是什麽,而不是我自己或我的團體的最大利益,而是整個兒唐人街。如果我們的呼聲只是來自不同的地方,那些政治人士根本就不會理睬。如果這個社區不團結起來,我們的精力和力量是很有限的。</p>
<p>如果我們華人社區有一個強有力的領導,假設唐人街有上百個組織,包括臺山人,廣東人,福建人,或其他來自中國北部的,還有CCBA,我們有這麽多組織,如果這些組織團結在一起,不單是靠名稱,而是以同樣的身份團結在一起,共同呼籲,而不是各講各的,我們會有更多的機會登上政治舞臺,把整個兒社區團結起來。</p>
<p>唐人街是離Ground Zero很近的一個社區。如果你做一些調查研究,跟Salvation Army和紅十字會得到9/11基金比起來,爲什麽提供給唐人街的資助這麽有限?有多少錢真正投入到華人社區重建唐人街?我們講了這麽多要重建唐人街,但究竟有多少錢投入到唐人街來幫助我們的社區,幫助那些受到影響和創傷的人?如果你看到這些統計數位的話,你會發現是有多麽的少,多麽的微不足道。這又是爲什麽呢?</p>
<p>
唐人街是屬於Lower East Side的一部分。這麽多年來,作爲華人,我認爲的確是Lower East Side的一部分,因爲每個社區都有自己的一座山,每個組織又是每座小山上的一堆火。如果這堆火只是一根蠟燭的話,根本就起不了什麽作用,但如果你能夠把這些小山都放在一起的話,會形成一座大山,如果你把這些小堆的火放在一起的話,就會看到一座大山上的火。難道整個兒Tri-State Area看不到這個地區的火焰嗎?對不對?世貿中心受到襲擊,全世界都知道。爲什麽?因爲它這麽高,這麽有名,又遭到襲擊。煙霧升到高高的天空。全世界都能夠看到。假設唐人街的一座建築物著了火,也許住在布魯克林的人不知道,或者住在唐人街東面的人不知道東百老彙有座樓著火了,對不對?所以,我認爲問題的關鍵是要團結起來形成一個團體,再爲這個團體做呼籲。但現時,我個人認爲我們沒有作爲一個團體講話,只是分散在各處,這就是爲什麽我們社區沒有得到合理的幫助。</p>
<p>問:那你認爲什麽事情可以把大家團結起來,因爲看上去語言不能夠把我們團結起來,不論是書面的還是口頭的,都不一樣。那你認爲這個社區裏的什麽大家能夠一致同意,能夠把大家團結起來?</p>
<p>葉:只要承認自己是華人,或美籍華人,“中國人”,我們就已經有一個基礎了。只要你認爲自己是中國人,你就能夠像聯合國那樣交流。爲什麽聯合國能夠運作?是因爲聯合國的人,或聯合國的代表都講同一種語言?不,他們不講同一種語言,但他們有同樣的職責。他們聚集在一起,成立了聯合國,他們來自世界不同的地方,講不同的語言,但他們來到這裏有同樣的身份。在開會的時候,可以有人翻譯。如果你不講福州話,但有福建人的領導,我是說,你是福建人的領導,但你又不講普通話,當別人講普通話的時候,你可以使用翻譯耳機。所有的廣東人說,我不講普通話,他們也可以找翻譯。</p>
<p>
但我認爲語言障礙是能夠克服的。如果聯合國能夠解決這個問題,華人社區當然沒有問題,因爲不是說一共有一百零八種方言,我們這裏還不到十種,對不對?</p>
<p>問:主要的問題。</p>
<p>葉:主要的問題。如果只有十種不同的方言,這還不算是一個克服不了的困難。但華人社區需要認識到的唯一的問題是,如果我們不團結,我們永遠是老樣子,年復一年,在過去的十五年裏,我看到華人社區的一些發展,但發展還是不大。比如說Canal Street的交通燈,你經常看到有車撞到老年人,因爲他們行動緩慢,而那些車輛又趕著過Holland Tunnel。這個問題已經提出有好幾年了。這種情況有沒有得到改善?沒有。爲什麽沒有?因爲唐人街本身就沒有人管。我們反映給了政府官員。那政府官員說,我爲什麽要爲你們做這些?你們爲我做了些什麽?在我競選的時候,有多少人選了我,選了我的黨?哦,對不起,不多。那你現在又爲什麽來找我?</p>
<p>問:那問題還是我們,華人不投票,因此我們在市里形成不了一股政治勢力。</p>
<p>葉:也不是說華人不投票,而是懂得投票的人,知道投票會對社區帶來影響的人沒有盡力去教育民衆去投票。我總是說,我們是在美國生活,我們有選舉的權利。但對那些從中國來的人來講,投票還是一件新鮮的事物。如果你說,我們召集四百個人來開會,討論一些政治問題,一個小時之後也許你會被抓到監獄裏去,對嗎?</p>
<p>但在美國卻不同。在美國,你可以投票,你有投票的權利,你如果想表達你的意見,或者是反對政府,或者是支援政府,這是允許的。但很多人,即使成爲美國公民,還是不知道自己的職責和義務是什麽。<br>

在過去,很多年以前,在你尚未成爲美國公民的時候,他們告訴你美國公民的職責和義務是什麽。但現在你通過了考試,拿到了公民紙,成爲美國公民了。那些職責和義務又怎樣了?如果政府不做這些事情,誰又會去做,成立社區機構和組織?</p>
<p>但如果我們的工作做得不夠,沒有把選舉日作爲社區裏的大事,人們是不會知道的。你認爲很多人都知道哪天是選舉日,或者今天就是選舉日嗎?他們不知道,因爲他們不看報紙,他們看不懂。但如果你多做一些努力,到社區裏做宣傳,可能效果會好一些。如果我們看選舉的人數,實在是太少。但除了參加選舉的人以外,我們還是找不到其他登記了的選民。</p>
<p>問:你聽起來非常熱衷於關心這個社區。你有沒有考慮到自己?有沒有想過競選什麽職務?</p>
<p>葉:我是有想過,但好象你開始的時候所講,我還年輕,有很多東西要學,政治是一件嚴肅的事情。從政需要一些特殊的技能,並不是能說、有激情就能夠做的。你需要有關係,認識一些有影響力的人。要認識社區裏有影響力的人,這樣他們才能夠爲你講話或支援你。否則,你只是一個人站出來說,我要參加競選。別人會問,你是誰,你是哪兒來的?對不對?這是非常非常實際的,因爲政治就是金錢,金錢就是政治,我只是一個普通家庭的父親,需要一些時間。我不是說這不可能,但我還是需要學習,需要多認識一些人,現在我只是一個負責人,我只是和其他組織的負責人有接觸,但是接觸行政人員還需要一些時間。但是我知道有很多人已經瞭解整個兒系統,有很多關係,認識所有有影響力的人。<br>

那些人的機會可能會多一些,只要我們團結在一起。我們必須坐在同一張桌子上談一下社區的需要,把自己的計劃,自己自私的計劃放在一邊。對社區最有利的事情不一定對我也最有利、能填鼓我自己的腰包。</p>
<p>如果他們沒有帶著自己自私的目的,唐人街當然會有更好的發展,有更好的前途。</p>
<p>問:對於一個十三歲離開中國、十九歲來到這裏時還沒有明確的理想或抱負的人來說,你現在已經找到了你的位置,你已經爲社區做了很多事情。現在回想起來,在這過去的十五年裏,你是否爲你今天的成就感到驚訝?</p>
<p>葉:實際上,我是很驚訝,甚至我的很多朋友,同班同學都很驚訝,他們問我,爲什麽你爬得這麽快、這麽高?我想主要是我的激情。我熱衷於幫助移民社區因爲我自己就是移民,而且我經歷了這麽多困難。當我剛剛來到這裏的時候,我把唐人街叫作墳墓,因爲我看到每天都有很多年輕人死掉,幫派之爭,唐人街有很多問題。因爲我的宗教背景,它的確幫助我認識到人性並不都是自私的,你必須要付出。我也許能夠出去做生意,賺很多錢,每半年度一次假,但我選擇了社會服務工作。</p>
<p>當我回顧過去,我的確感到我已經或正在得到的回報要遠遠超過金錢所能夠購買的,這的確令我很驚訝。我給你舉一個例子,我從2002年開始在Hunter Social Work School學習。兩年半後畢業,我自己沒有花一分錢讀那個學位,因爲我獲得Department of Health and Hygiene的獎學金。我現在回想起來,當時紐約市有那麽多人申請那二十個名額,我就是其中的一個。爲什麽我能夠得到,其他人也都很有能力?就是這麽簡單一句話:因爲我關心社區,我已經爲社區做了很多。而且做決定的人也已經看到<br>

如果我有MSW(Master of Social Work)學位的話,我會做更多的貢獻。所以,他們把獎學金發給了我,讓我免費受教育。</p>
<p>這的確對我是很大的鼓勵,無論我做了些什麽,即使在經濟上我沒有獲得補償,但整個兒的系統是在補償我,他們給了我獎學金。我自己也非常高興,也非常感激,我的工作受到了紐約市,實際上是Department of Health and Mental Hygiene的肯定,我自己也以此爲榮。這也鼓勵我繼續努力,有一天,如果你需要,人們會肯定你的工作,獎賞你所做的一切。</p>
<p>因此,這的確是一個驚訝。我從來沒有想過會有今天,只是想多受些教育,這樣可以做些有益的事情來幫助別人和自己,所以說,這的確是一個很大的獎賞。</p>
<p>問:我的最後一個問題,既然你提到你剛到唐人街的時候把唐人街看作是個墳墓。你是否認爲在你的有生之年能夠看到這個墳墓會充滿、或者是說會有生氣,而不再是個墓地?你認爲這會實現嗎?</p>
<p>葉:我是一個充滿希望和信心的人,只要還有希望,我決不會放棄。我認爲唐人街本身有很大的潛力,而且唐人街有很多有潛力的人和領導。在過去十五年裏,我看到了很多變化,尤其是在Giuliani任期的時候,因爲他清除了所有的幫派。其他一些幫派成員受到檢控,他們已經消失了好幾年了。現在這裏已不像以前那麽恐怖了。</p>
<p>以後還會有變化的。我認爲如果把唐人街變成花園而不是墳墓的話,我們必須多做一些努力。這些努力不僅僅要靠我們這一代領導人,還包括第二代移民的領導。因爲如果我們這一代不能夠打開局面,坐下來探討,找出對我們社區最有利的問題,<br>

抛卻自己個人想法和計劃而共同合作的話,如果我們做不到這些,我們就不會有發展。我們只是維持老樣子,某一時間變得稍好一些,某一時間又變得糟糕。但我確實寄許多希望于第二代移民。第二代移民,我自己應該是第一代。我希望第二代移民能夠具備足夠的技能,講好幾種語言,普通話,英語,廣州話,而許多福建人已經能夠講這三種語言,我是說年輕的一代能夠講兩或三種語言。我有幾個員工都是福建人,他們能講英文,廣東話,普通話,都沒有問題。</p>
<p>我的意思是說,第二代移民與年輕的第一代移民合作,他們能夠做的事情要比我們這一代人多得多。因爲如果我們這代人仍然保持那老一套思想的話,我們很難做出什麽成績出來。但我看到我們第二代移民的觀念在轉變。第二代移民就是那些在美國土生土長的中國人後裔(ABC, American Born Chinese),我所說的年輕的第一代移民是指那些在十幾歲的時候就來美國的移民,他們目睹過這些移民的奮鬥和存在的問題。因此,如果這兩代人能在一起合作的話,我肯定他們會把唐人街改變成爲一個花園,而不是一塊墓地。</p>
<p>但他們確實需要在一起合作和交流,比如在學校裏。有的時候,一些ABC取笑新的移民,“噢,你的英語講得不好。”但那些新移民也會嘲笑他們,“噢,你說你自己是中國人,不害臊,你連中文都不會講。”如果他們繼續那種心態,那他們還要面對另外一種衝突。我希望我們要盡我們所能,至少要教育我們的孩子,教育我們的第二代和年輕的新一代移民要打開局面,爲唐人街的美好的未來團結起來,在同一個社區裏共同生活、努力奮鬥。</p>
<p>問:非常感謝你今天能跟我們談你的觀點和對未來的展望。還有其他什麽我還沒有問到或是你要補充的嗎?</p>
<p>葉:沒有了,你已經提出了很多非常好的問題,我感覺你對這個社區以及他們的奮鬥也很瞭解,當然從這個美洲華人博物館,<br>

我能想象你對這裏的過去和現在都有瞭解。希望你們能夠做更多的事情把唐人街建設得更好。我認爲知曉歷史能使人更加明智。如果不知道歷史,我們不知道過去曾經發生過什麽。歷史是如此重要,我希望更多的第二代移民和新移民的孩子能夠有機會學習更多唐人街的歷史,這樣的採訪會幫助他們懂得我們所經歷過的奮鬥和麵臨的困難,希望這些事情不會在將來再次發生。尤其是這個福建人社區,在我們同FEMA,政府官員,聯邦和當地各級官員舉行的關於9/11的會議後,我們已向他們講述了許多關於這個社區的事情,我堅信,如果紐約市或這個國家的其他地方再發生類似的事件或災難,他們會應付得更好,會照顧到每一個社區,不僅是聽取民衆的意見,而且會進行調查以便發現哪些社區尚未得到幫助,以及爲什麽沒有得到幫助。因爲他們如果撥款出去,他們勢必需要讓那些得到款項的機構負責。因爲這些基金是從各種渠道籌集到的,有一些是來自普通的民衆,有一些是來自富人。顯然我們一定要把錢投入到有需要的社區和民衆。</p>
<p>我認爲在開過這麽多會議之後,他們肯定已經對唐人街的結構有了更深層次的瞭解。據我瞭解,他們的工作小組已經有了一些初步的計劃。當你爲一個社區服務的時候,你不單單要看一個群體。就好象是福建人社區,我們稱它是少數群體裏的少數群體。因此,他們確實需要幫助。</p>
<p>因此,我認爲這會幫助我們更好地理解我們的工作,因爲華人社區是一個整體,但在華人社區裏你還有一些少數群體,比如福建人。我感覺其他社區可能會有同樣的問題。因此,我希望那些政府官員,負責分發基金的國家和地方的官員和<br>
辦事人員在發放救濟金的時候能夠更加專業和細心,每個人都要對此負任。</p>
<p>這樣才會幫助到所有需要幫助的人,而不僅僅是那些恰巧知道如何得到幫助的人。有很多人有時並不知道如何尋求幫助,因爲他們受到強烈的衝擊,是如此的絕望,以至於他們不知道怎樣尋求幫助。因此,我希望我今天談的一些東西會有所幫助,希望這些會成爲歷史。</p>
<p>問:福建社區非常幸運能有你在這裏幫助他們。</p>
<p>我今天採訪的是來自Lutheran Church True Light的Henry Ye。非常感謝你能抽出時間跟我們分享你的觀點。我是鄭愛蘭。謝謝你。</p>
<p>Ye:謝謝。</p>

Citation

“Henry Ye,” September 11 Digital Archive, accessed March 31, 2020, https://911digitalarchive.org/items/show/88957.