September 11 Digital Archive

Chris Chan

Title

Chris Chan

Source

transcription

Media Type

interview

Chinatown Interview: Interviewee

Chris Chan

Chinatown Interview: Interviewer

Lan Trinh

Chinatown Interview: Date

2004-05-24

Chinatown Interview: Language

English

Chinatown Interview: Occupation

CPC/asthma

Chinatown Interview: Interview (en)

Q: Today is May 24th. I’m sitting here with Chris Chan of Chinese Progressive Association, otherwise known as CPA here on 83 Canal Street. We will talk more about the asthma-related work that CPA has done the last couple of years, but first we want to get to know you, who you are. Chris, tell us a little bit about where you’re from.

Chan: Actually, I’m from Hong Kong, via Macau.

Q: In Macau?

Chan: Yes, I was born in China, but I moved to Macau when I was 2 years old. I grew up in Macau. After high school, I went to Hong Kong.

Q: Ok. Where in China are you from and why did your family move to Macau?

Chan: I’m not quite sure, but I think after the Communist took over China, my parents wanted to leave that environment. They found a way and went to Macau. I grew up in Macau and spent my childhood in Macau.

Q: So this is the 60s, the 70s, what era are we talking about?

Chan: (laugher) Yeah, probably around 1960, early 1970. After high school, I found a job in Hong Kong, then I moved to Hong Kong.

Q: In Macau, did you go to a bilingual school? Did you study Portuguese?

Chan: It was not a bilingual school, but a normal school, which was Chinese. When I was in the 10th and 11th grade, our school started having Portuguese lessons as one subject. So I did have a chance to learn some Portuguese.

Q: What was your childhood in a Portuguese colony like? So you have no impression of China, obviously since you left so young?

Chan: Yes, because Macau and China are really close, I do know what’s going on in China. The memory I still have of childhood: I remember everybody would send something back to China…

Q: Money?

Chan: Yeah, money or goods, or they would physically bring something back China for their relatives or families. That’s very common for that period.

Q: After high school, you got a job in Hong Kong as what?

Chan: As a construction worker (laughter). In Macau, that many businesses. The main business in China is casinos.

Q: In Macau?

Chan: Yes, even now, it’s still casinos. Besides that, there’s not much else you can do. So, after I graduated from high school, it was hard to find a job. Then, I had a chance to go to Hong Kong. Any job that I can find, I’d love to do it. Finally, I got a job in the construction field.

Q: You mean manual labor kind of construction, as in building?

Chan: Yeah, building. Hong Kong has lots of high rise buildings. At that time, the real estate was a really booming business. So it was easy to find a job.

Q: This was in the 80s?

Chan: This was around late 70s to early 80s.

Q: So the real estate was really booming in Hong Kong at that time?

Chan: Right. Right. To be a construction worker, even if you don’t have the skills, they’ll hire you and train you at the work site. Learn it and practice it.

Q: In Hong Kong, why did you decide to come to America? When did you decide to come to America?

Chan: In 1984. 1984, April.

Q: What made you decide to come to America?

Chan: I had a chance to come. My sister was already here. She was married and was able to apply for us to come.

Q: So your sister sponsored you to come to America?

Chan: Right. Before that, she came here to study college. After that, she got married and got citizenship and she sponsored us to come.

Q: How old were you when you came?

Chan: I was born in 1957. So in 1984….27? Yeah, 27.

Q: So already with work experience in Hong Kong and a little bit of English. Some English skills from Hong Kong.

Chan: (laughter) uh, not quite.

Q: Not quite (laughter)?

Chan: Because in Hong Kong, I just worked and also it’s predominantly Chinese. Most people speak Chinese. Of course in Hong Kong, English is very common, but working in the lower level, most people speak Chinese. Only a few words in English and not correct pronunciation. For me, I would consider it as no English at all. I did have difficulty when I first came here, for a period.

Q: So you came straight to New York, ‘cause you already had a sister here?

Chan: Right.

Q: What was your impression of New York City?

Chan: Um…because my sister lived in Queens. My first impression was that New York is not a modern city (laugher). Compared to Hong Kong where there’s a lot of modern building and high rises. Here, it’s all concrete buildings. Queens is almost like a suburb. And back at that time, in my area, the tallest building was six stories high (laughter).

Q: What area of Queens was this?

Chan: Kew Gardens.

Chan: It was not what I know of New York City. But of course once I visited Manhattan, it’s different. I didn’t know Manhattan that well, because three days after I landed in New York, I found a job in Chinatown (laughter). So I just deal with my daily life in Chinatown. I didn’t have a chance to see the real face of Manhattan. Everyday, I just traveled from Kew Garden to Manhattan and go back home. That’s all.

Q: What did you think you were going to do once you got to America?

Chan: I didn’t have any plans. I just needed to find a job because I needed to survive. In my pocket, I had only $60 (laughter) when I came to New York. The next day, my sister showed me how to go to Chinatown. I bought a newspaper and started calling. I was really lucky. Three days later, I found a construction job in Chinatown to do renovation.

Q: Is it similar to the sky scrappers you worked on in Hong Kong?

Chan: Not quite. Because the wall is (sheet?) rock, it’s not cement. The structure is different, but it’s okay. I feel it’s easier for me to work. It’s just a little different than in Hong Kong.

Q: So you worked for Chinese people when you came?

Chan: Yeah.

Q: And you didn’t have to use English too much.

Chan: No, not at all. I still remember…ah…once around my house, I walked on the street and there were some Americans on that side, I was so really afraid that I walked on the other side (laughter).

Q: To the other side of the street?

Chan: Yeah, I was afraid to face those people. To ‘hi’ or whatever. Yeah, back at that time, I was afraid. But after about one and a half years in Chinatown, I felt that I needed to break the wall. If I decide to stay in America, I really need to learn English. I started to find those ESL classes to participate. Back at that time, I didn’t know there were any free classes, that the community provides free English classes. So I just go to those paid ESL classes. I started at the grass stage, like ABC.

Q: Very basic.

Chan: Yes, very basic. But back at that time. I still didn’t know where would provide those courses. Seems like none. When I went to join those classes, it was pretty advance for me. No bilingual teacher and I don’t know what’s going on, what they’re talking about (laughter). I still remember the first class I went to, three days later, I just dropped out. I totally did not know what’s going on. I can’t follow it. I tried to watch the news on TV, listen to the radio. Pick it up little by little. Once it hit me to really make my decision to spend time in English, it was two years later after I worked in Chinatown, after the payday, I really wanted to treat my brother to McDonald’s for a meal in midtown. But when I went there, I can’t order (laughter). They didn’t know what I’m talking about and I wanted to….

Q: This is two years after you arrived in America?

Chan: Yeah, I wanted to order a Big Mac and french fries. I kept saying ‘potato chips’ and they said ‘we don’t have it.’ Later on, we just went back to Chinatown and had dinner. After that, I really think how I can live in America for two years and I can’t go to McDonald’s to have my meal? That’s a real shame for myself. It really gave me great encourage to find ways to learn English.

Q: So two years into living in New York City and you cannot order a Big Mac and french fried meal at McDonald’s and you felt very bad….

Chan: Yeah, very bad.

Q: And you decided to study, I mean really study English.

Chan: I spent time from class to class, school to school, read newspapers. And some friends introduce me to where there are classes and if it fits into my schedule, I go. It took me a long time to overcome.

Q: So you were still working as a construction worker in Chinatown during all this time?

Chan: No, after I decided to learn English, I quit my job and found a warehouse job in midtown with an American company. I tried to get out of the Chinese community and tried to force myself into an English environment to pick up English.

Q: What did you do at this warehouse?

Chan: It was a fabric warehouse. Textile. They had different designers in their company and make those textiles and they will print and ship it to the warehouse. The other companies would go there to get the materials. My job was to cut the textile to them, how many yards they need and keep the records. A lot of tons of different designs, pattern by pattern.

Q: Did that job force you to speak English?

Chan: Yes. Yes. It was getting better. Later on, I changed a few times. But still, I finally came back to construction. I was familiar with that.

Q: The first time you came to Chinatown, those first two years, what was your impression of Chinatown?

Chan: Chinatown, at that time for me, was an enclosed separate area from outside. That’s what I feel. In Chinatown, you don’t need to speak any English. You can survive purely in Chinese. You can make your living and everything just speaking Chinese. At that time, I thought Chinatown was pretty old. The stores and restaurant, the food that was served was in old style. And the products sold in Chinatown were old in style too. In Hong Kong, you will see new things. In Hong Kong, it’s different, there’s lots of new products from different countries are flown in Hong Kong to test the market. In Chinatown, the feeling is like back in the 16th century!

Q: Very far behind Hong Kong.

Chan: Yeah, right.

Q: You felt comfortable in Chinatown?

Chan: Yes. People are friendly. A lot of Chinese are willing to help each other. That’s how I felt.

Q: You didn’t know anyone here besides your sister?

Chan: No. I did join a church in Chinatown (laugher). So I very quickly established some friendship in the church.

Q: How long did you work in the warehouse before you found your way to CPA?

Chan: The warehouse I only worked for about a year, then I switched to another job. I had a chance to find another job as an architect, prospective drawing. It was a Taiwanese company. They needed an assistant to draw the prospectives. I loved drawing ever since I was in Macau. I learned how to do it at that company. I spent one and a half year at that company. Later on, I had another chance to work in a development company as a construction development. A lot of Chinese people will buy houses, knock it down and build 3, 6 story buildings. I had a chance to work there. Later on, I started my own business as a construction company. In 1999, since real estate was not that active, I closed my company and went back to school.

Q: At what point did you become active at CPA?

Chan: Since 1989, the June 4th event after that. Not long after that, I went to City College. The first college I went was LaGuardia College. Since I was back in school and closed my company, I needed a part time job. Somebody told me that CPA had an opening for a community organizer and I just sent in my resume and started working at CPA in 1992.

Q: Before that, did you participate in any community activity at all?

Chan: I was active in the church. It was not exactly community work, but helping church members. Back to the June 4th event, I was really active in those and had a chance to know about different organizations. I started getting more interested and know more about community services. So I (became) interested in this direction.

Q: So this is really different from construction work.

Chan: Really different (chuckles). Totally different. I work in CPA, I love it. After I graduated in college—my major is art and computer graphics.

Q: What do you like about working at CPA?

Chan: CPA as a grassroots organization provides direct service to the community. It gives me a chance to really see the community and also understand their issues, problems. We can get hands-on experience on how to help them. You can see the results, how your work can reshape the community. That’s gives me a deep impact.

Q: What are some of the services that CPA offers to the community?

Chan: CPA has a number of services to the community. First is immigration rights. We have a citizenship program to help people who qualify or want to know about citizenship and procedure. We handle cases and do the follow up too. We provide English classes, citizen class. We do handle cases and also educate them about how and what they can do. Besides that, CPA is concerned with environmental issues. The Chinatown area has a lot of environmental problems, so CPA is really concerned about that and educate the community. For example, we’re concerned about lead poisoning for those old buildings. Chinatown has a lot of old buildings. Chinese people do not understand this issue, but this one you can protect if you know what’s going on. You can protect yourself. You won’t get hurt. Also the asthma issue and smoking. Smoking in the Chinese community is really popular. Youth smokers are increasing. We try to stress this in the community, especially the teenagers about smoking and second smoke.

Q: Let’s talk about one of the studies you did you, I think in 2001?

Chan: 2002.

Q: 2002, you surveyed 580 people?

Chan: Yes.

Q: In the Chinatown area. Tell us about that study. And where exactly were the borders? What areas did you survey?

Chan: Since 1996, EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) released a report for diesel population in the Manhattan area. The report indicates that Canal Street is one of the higher polluted streets in the city. We think this is a really serious issue. We also know that CPA members and friends have asthma issues. That’s why CPA wants to find out more about the asthma issue in Chinatown area. Before that, we did some report, and got the statistics from DOH. The statistics show that the Chinatown area asthma situation for children is very low…

Q: Very low?

Chan: yes, very low. Of course this is the hospitalized rate. They get the data based on who has asthma attacks and has stayed in hospital overnight and they got this data. In Chinese community, not that many people would go to the hospital and would stay overnight.

Q: Where did you get this statistic?

Chan: DOH. Department of Health. We feel that this only shows a part of the situation. Also after 911, pollution is even worse. That’s why we have decided to do the asthma survey to find out the real face in the Chinatown area. We grouped a lot of volunteers together and researched the survey. We went out on the streets, in the park, library, and different places in the Chinatown area to do the survey. Some surveys, we can’t count it because some people that we interviewed were not living in the Chinatown area. Some of the surveys we can’t use it. Finally, we surveyed 580 families all over the Chinatown area, not in any one specific area. We found out that we saw a surprise. According to statistics, (in a) five family household, already has at least one member with asthma in the household.

Q: How did you conduct the survey? Is it just randomly asking people on the street in different public places? Did you give people a breathing test? What did you do exactly?

Chan: Random pick….

Q: Of questionnaires?

Chan: We spent about three months up setting up the questionnaires.

Q: Give me a sample of a few questions that were on this. How do you determine if someone has asthma or not?

Chan: In our survey, first we ask them where does the person live? Also, do you have a breathing problem? Do they diagnosis asthma by a doctor and when? We ask such questions.

Q: Is your study carried out in the same or similar way that EPA does that when they came out with the statistic that Chinatown is more polluted than other areas in New York City. How did they get that information? Is there a similar method that you both use? Do you know how they do it?

Chan: I forgot. When we set up the questionnaire, we got the example from, I think, the DOH and the EPA, those example.

Q: You modified it?

Chan: Yes, we modified it. Mount Sinai Hospital also conducted their own research too. We got the different ways and compared them and set up our own sample.

Q: There are lots of non profit organizations in Chinatown, why did CPA stand out and do this?

Chan: Actually I don’t know why, but it seems in the Chinatown area, we all should be concerned with environmental issue, but maybe because of funding or not that many people feel that it’s a serious issue because asthma, lead poisoning, and smoking does not have immediate effects on health. They have long term effect, not immediate. We know that these are serious issues, and we also know that asthma, lead poisoning and smoking can be controlled. If you know what’s going on, you can project yourself.

Q: Did you make a point of studying people of all different ages? You said that 580 families were surveyed, from elders to kids?

Chan: Right. If the kids were under 16 years old, we’d leave them out of the survey. The survey is for 16 and up. We went to the senior centers also to conduct survey the elders. During the survey process, we found out that not that many people understand the asthma issue, especially the elders. Most elders have the concept that asthma is a children’s problems. “Don’t worry about it. You don’t need to do anything. If they grow up, the asthma will be automatically gone.” Something along those lines. They think if you have asthma, just do some sports, jogging, run, or swim, make your body stronger and the asthma will be gone. That kind of concept. Most of them also believe that over-the-counter medicine can cure asthma if you take it consistently over a period of time, it will be gone.

Q: So it sounds there are two things here that your study shows: one is the environmental factors within Chinatown, the air quality itself…

Chan: Yes.

Q: Secondly, it’s asthma and those two things are related. But for example, you mentioned elders. I imagine that because a lot of them come from China, where smoking is very a normal habit for men. And depending on where they live, if they live near a factory or in a big city like Guangzhou where the pollution is very bad, a lot of these people may have come with already a foundation for asthma, you cannot really show that they got asthma in Chinatown. Do you understand what I’m asking? How much of the problem is created here in Chinatown and how much is carried over from say China and personal health?

Chan: That’s a good question actually (laughter). In our statistic, 51.1% of asthma sufferers are teenagers. As a whole, asthma patients are 1/3 of their diagnosis of asthma is since they moved into the Chinatown area. That means that before they came to the U.S., before they came to New York, they did not diagnosis anything, but since they moved into Chinatown, especially after 911, they have breathing problems. Those symptoms came up more serious. It might be as you said, carried over from their homeland. But the facts have shown us that after September 11, the whole is getting worse. That’s the facts we saw.

Q: The last study that was done before 911 was in 1996 by EPA?

Chan: Yes. But that one only showed diesel pollution. It’s not the whole thing, the air quality. But after September 11, I’d like to say it’s a really serious issue. I work in Chinatown. That day, I was in Chinatown. After that, I didn’t come to Chinatown for just one day. I continued to come to Chinatown everyday. I still remember I can smell the smell from the air even after Thanksgiving.

Q: So we’re talking about two months.

Chan: The first two, three weeks was terrible. Even with closed windows, everywhere, there was strong, weird smell in the air.

Q: Do you remember if the EPA did any studies, pollution studies, at that time in Chinatown as a direct result of September 11 being so near…the World Trade Center being so near Chinatown?

Chan: I heard, but I’m not sure if I remember. Yes, they did, but not in the Chinatown area. Also, after 911, people were only concerned with Chinatown from the south of Canal Street. I feel this is really funny (laughter) because what’s the difference with this boundary, the air is free flow. Actually, our office location is north of Canal. But still I can smell it everyday.

Q: So because you are by location, north of Canal, were you eligible for air filters or any of the 911 fundings?

Chan: No. No (laughter).

Q: So CPA as an organization, because of your location, did not get any 911 money?

Chan: No. No.

Q: Then how did you fund the asthma study?

Chan: I forgot the fund, but it’s a very small grant.

Q: So it was a private grant?

Chan: I think it was a private grant. CPA is mostly funded by private foundations. Government funds, we did not get that much because we are not a big organization even though we do a lot of quality work for the community. Since the budget cut from the government, we really have a hard time getting funding. We have funding for an English class right now that provides free English class. But this funding is not a 911 funding. It was from before. CPA did not get 911 funding for job training, English classes…

Q: The technical boundaries for the area that is considered Chinatown that is eligible for air filters and fundings and all that is between Canal and Pike? Is that what it is?

Chan: In that area and below. As for filters, later on, if you’re eligible, you can get it at home.

Q: Regardless of where you are?

Chan: As long as you got affected by the air. I know that a lot of people who live in Brooklyn’s Sunset part area also got it.

Q: (interruption)…Chinatown was just polluted because of the traffic. We have the Manhattan Bridge, not so far the Brooklyn Bridge. It’s just a lot of traffic congestion in this area. Diesel pollution, you were talking about earlier. So Chinatown was already bad long before 911. Has the EPA or any other environmental organizations do anything to clean up the air here? What to your knowledge has been done to address this problem?

Chan: From what I know, right now the government is not doing that much in the Chinatown area. Right now, it’s getting worse because of 911 effected the air quality and the tour buses. These private companies have tour buses that go to Boston, Washington, Philadelphia…

Q: On East Broadway?

Chan: Yeah, on East Broadway. And the casino buses on Bowery. The big tucks and big buses. Also, the bridge has non-stop construction. A lot of repairs on Canal Street. Constructions, tour buses, diesel trucks still go through the Manhattan Bridge….

Q: So all these things have nothing to do with 911? These things are just in Chinatown already?

Chan: It’s just getting worse. After 911, it’s just like coincidence. Just the whole Chinatown area is getting worse, the air quality. Getting worse and worse.

Q: When you did the study, it was over how long of a period?

Chan: We conducted in 2002 Spring and had the final results in 2002 August.

Q: So just in 6 months? Did you go back to the same families? How did you collect the information?

Chan: We didn’t do that much follow up because of manpower and we don’t have any money to do the follow up job. Right now, we’re developing an asthma project this is on- going in the Chinatown community. CPA has plans to do this better. The first thing is to do more education. Second thing is to improve the environment. The third thing is air quality monitoring. In these three directions, we’re working on. Right now, we’re applying for some grants and see if we can have funding to do it. It would be in these three directions.

Q: Education meaning educating the community, to let the residents and business, people who work and live here know what’s going on in their environment. So with the results of this study, what have you done with it? How is that used towards getting more attention or meetings with councilmen? How are you approaching on a government level so that changes can be made to address these problems?

Chan: On a government level, we’d like to see improvement of the environment. We just had some brainstorming. For example, this summer, we worked with other groups, we’d like to make a video documentary to give a rough idea of the Chinatown area air pollution. We work with a group of teenagers, give them training about this issue and what idea they come up with. We hope the 10 minute documentary tape is a tour in the Chinatown area to address those environmental issues. We also have another idea, we haven’t got a concrete idea because we have a core group to develop that. Another idea is tree count in the Chinatown area and compare that with environmentally healthy communities, things like how much green areas. If we got this done, the second step is we’d send it to the councilmen.

Q: In your study, it was mainly for asthma. You didn’t do environmental study in terms of what is in the air besides diesel after 911?

Chan: The air monitoring actually we’re getting information. We’ve already contacted field organizations that’s doing the monitoring. But it really involves technical stuff and professionals. We have ideas to work with some university professors and Phd projects to see if they have interest in finding out the air quality in the Chinatown area. But we definitely know that is not enough. That only one monitoring station on top of the post office.

Q: That’s what we have right now?

Chan: Yes, right now, that’s all we have. The street levels don’t have it. We’re going to do more research and see which groups are interested to do street level air quality.

Q: Seems to me that there are two ways, if any changes is going to come out of this. Things like traffic, and all that, that’s the city government level. But things like the tour buses, that’s a Chinese business community level. That’s not the government saying you have to park there. That’s business people who are Chinese. So do you make any efforts to approach those groups and say maybe they have to park their buses somewhere else, cause they are also contributing to the air quality problem in Chinatown.

Chan: Definitely. After we get more job done, we’d like to contact them, those business organizations and see what they can help to improve that. As for the government level, maybe after more study, we may have suggestions on which streets should turn into a one way. Those diesel trucks should detour and not go directly through Canal. But we need to do more work before we can say that.

Q: Do you think those business people are going to care? Those tour bus company on East Broadway and those casino buses, do you think they will care that in some way they’re contributing to the pollution problem in Chinatown? Or they care just about the business?

Chan: Yes, they do care about the business. But if we can find a better solution to accomplish their business and also care about the environment, that will help the tours and the community business also. It must have some mutual benefits. But if nobody see or find this mutual area, of course the situation won’t change a bit. If we spend time and research to find this mutually benefit area, it might happen.

Q: After talking to many people in the Chinatown community, I always get the feeling that they feel the government level, the city level, is not paying enough attention to Chinatown, especially after 911. But it also seems to me that the community is not really looking after itself in many ways.

Chan: In my personal opinion, those business organizations, they work their own. Or they’re only concerned with how to make the business grow instead of environment. But they do know that the bad smell, especially in the summer, everybody knows that that is a bad thing for tourism. I’d like to point out that our neighbor across one street, Little Italy, they have restaurants next to each other on the whole street, but they don’t have that smell. What did they do? How come they can do that? If we can improve it…

Q: Are you saying that Italian restaurant owners, maybe they work together better in some way than the Chinese?

Chan: I don’t know. I think somebody else should do some research. How do they handle the garbage? How do they keep the streets clean? How do they run their business without that bad smell (laughter)? After we study it, then we can see if Chinatown can adopt it. Can Chinatown do that? I think they will see that it’s good for them that if they put a little extra effort, or pay a little more attention, they can make the environment (better) and get rid of that smell. I think they’d do that because that deals with the business issue. If the front door is clean and has no smell, of course more people would come.

(Tape change. Interruption)

Q: You were saying that you were impressed with how Little Italy, who is on the same streets, Mulberry and Mott, just one block over, manages to not have the same smell that Chinatown does (laughter). I’m going to ask you something that sounds almost unethical, do you think Chinese people take pride in their environment? Because if you look at China, would you say that Chinatown is in some way a smaller scale, a small replica of China, of the way people live? Of the way people do business? The way people interact with each other? Walking through the streets, I see that many vendors have no problem just pouring everything onto the streets. Just dumping everything, all the trash onto the street. In many ways, do Chinese really look after their environment?

Chan: I’d like to say that they don’t have such concepts. That’s why we need to educate them. I think the Chinese people, the character, they don’t like to be dirty. But they don’t know what to do. No body can set up a model for them. I’d like to pick Hong Kong as a model. I remember, back in the 60s, there was a lot of garbage on the streets. But the government had a movement that encouraged people to keep the streets clean. They even created a cartoon character, a garbage bug. Then the city changed. Then people know that that’s good. In Chinatown, no body takes action, ring up the bell and take this issue seriously.

Q: You think education is one part, that they don’t understand the impact their actions can have on the environment, on the pollution.

Chan: Yes. They don’t have the plans to tell them what to do. Not only to educate them about the concept of keeping the environment clean is good for them, but what to do and how do it. Personally, I’ve been wondering, just across the street, Little Italy is a totally different area. We can spend time and study and see how Chinatown can adopt it or find a better way to do it.

Q: Is there any dialogue with the Little Italy community to see how they keep things cleaner?

Chan: I didn’t work in this field, so I don’t know personally. But I do know there are groups who are really concerned about the environment, not only us, like Clean Up Chinatown. They formed this group as a special concern group of street cleaning in Chinatown. Probably they would better than me.

Q: I think I read in your studies that one of the causes is cockroaches.

Chan: Yes.

Q: As we know, Chinatown has a lot of restaurants and lots of homes above restaurants and it’s impossible to keep those buildings cockroach free whenever you have restaurants below. Do you think there’s a connection between the number of asthma sufferers in Chinatown and the fact that so much of Chinatown relies of restaurant business?

Chan: I don’t know. I won’t say that it’s related because the trigger for each asthma patient may be different. It’s not only the cockroaches that trigger or smell. Sometimes, it may be smoking. Sometimes maybe perfumes. No matter what, I would like to say that it contributes to the pollution in the environment. Also this one can be controlled and can be changed.

Q: Cockroaches can be controlled? Is that what you mean?

Chan: No, the whole. Yep. Even the cockroaches can be, to a certain extent (laughter). They just need to pay a little more attention. It’s possible to do it.

Q: You said in your survey that you found one out of five people….

Chan: Households. One out of five households.

Q: Or one person out of five household?

Chan: No. Five families has one family.

Q: One family out of five.

Chan: Yes, at least in the household has one who suffers from asthma.

Q: And this is much higher than what the Department of Health defines as asthma sufferer, which is someone who has been hospitalized overnight. You’re saying that a lot of Chinese people suffer from asthma, but they don’t spend time in a hospital.

Chan: Because Chinese has the habit of relying on over-the-counter medicines, which are imported from China.

Q: Or maybe herbal medicine?

Chan: Yeah, maybe herbal medicine. In those Chinese drugstores, you can find different medicine for head to toe. It would cover your whole body (laughter). Even if you lost your hair, take this one, or whatever. You name it, they have it. Whether it works or not, it’s hard to say. Most Chinese would take them. That’s a habit dating back to China. If they have a problem, the first thing is they would go to the drugstore, instead of going to a doctor. They go to the drugstore to find modern or herbal medicine to cure that part of the problem, and if that doesn’t work, then try another few things. If afterwards, they keep getting worse and worse, then they have no choice but to go to the doctor. So the doctor for them is not a priority. The priority is those over-the-counter medicine.

Q: There is a perception then for Chinese people that asthma is not as serious as it is. Something that they think will just go away when they get older.

Chan: Yes. So they don’t treat asthma as a serious issue, like smoking. Everybody smokes, what’s the big deal? Why make it sound like a monster? We need to change the concept. We also work on smoking. Most people don’t know that just one cigarette contains how many substances. If they know that it contains over 4,000 chemicals that would harm their body, I think they would deeply think would they want to pick up a cigarette and light it up? They don’t have a chance to know. That’s why we take education as a first step.

Q: To your knowledge, does the EPA or other agencies, conducting air quality or air pollution studies in Chinatown on a continuous basis to see if after September 11 rally has introduced some new unknown elements in the air in this area?

Chan: From my memory, I don’t know. The EPA did a study on air quality, but they did not release any data.

Q: Aside from CPA, which is a small organization, aside from what you’re doing on your own, what else do you think, what can the EPA do better? What can other organizations do to address this problem? This is a major problem in this area that I think requires a lot of groups working together to deal with it, from the traffic to cleaning….a whole lot of things combined.

Chan: CPA is taking steps to work with other groups. Hopefully this connection will grow. Get more organizations involved, interested in this area and issues. CPA does not work on our own, but we try to cooperate with other organizations. For example, CPA worked with six different hospitals, work together and let them know about the concerns of Chinatown. We’d also like to work with bigger groups, like the coalitions, see if they’re interested and help on it.

Q: It would be interesting now, over two years later since 911, to be able to track and see if…well, we know the air quality has certainly gotten worse since 911, but you really don’t have a clear idea whether there’s a lot more asthma victims or what other potential health issues could result from the collapse of the World Trade Center.

Chan: So far, no. We do a lot of work, but because we’re small in manpower, the whole picture is still a fog. In order to get a clear picture, we need to get more organizations involved. That’s what we hope and are working on.

Q: How aware do you think or how concerned is the average Chinese person in Chinatown about all of this? If you’re a new immigrant, you come to America or New York, most likely you’ll come to Chinatown, probably for work or something else. Do you think they think “Ah, the air is bad there, maybe I shouldn’t live there?” Do you think that crosses an average Chinese person’s mind?

Chan: No. Our location is on Canal and close to East Broadway, that’s where a lot of new immigrants, like the Fujianese, live. We work with a lot of Fujianese, documented and undocumented. The first thing in their mind is totally not environmental issue. They need to struggle for their living, so the first thing is to make money. How to settle down, get a better life. A very common issue is they send their kids back to the homeland in China in order for the mother to be able to work. That’s a very sad story. Their main concern is how to make money and how to make more money (laughter). There’s a lot of sad stories. The environmental problems do not cross their mind, but it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t tell them. We try our best, through different channels, to educate them. At least how to protect themselves in their daily lives.

Q: Give us a few examples of how people here can protect themselves. One, obviously is to not smoke.

Chan: For example, they didn’t know that smoking is that harmful and second hand smoke too. They don’t have such concept, because in China, it’s not a big deal. Everybody does it, at home or whatever. So we tell them the real situation. We ask them if they really need to smoke, if they do, then at least leave the room. If they (smokers) can’t, then you leave the room. Also, lead poisoning, especially in old buildings, they should know don’t open the fire escape windows. The window shields, peeling paints, you should pay more attention. The cockroach problems that you mentioned before, they just need to pay a little more attention. The two bridges in Chinatown, Manhattan and Williamsburg, have heavy lead dust in that area. People who live around that area should pay more attention. Don’t open the window. Use air filters or air conditioning at home.

Q: It sounds like you have a lot more work to do. First step is you need to get funding to continue the studies. Then once you have all the results, you’re hoping to connect with various groups within Chinatown, as well as city and government levels.

Chan: Right now, CPA is a member for different mainstream coalitions. For example, New York Immigration Coalitions, Asian American Federations, and New York Stop Smoking Coalitions. We’d like to bring the different groups together and hopefully in the future solve the problems in the Chinatown area.

Q: Okay, it sounds like you have a lot of work ahead of you (laughter). I wish you much luck with all of that.

Chan: Actually, it’s not just me doing it or CPA doing it. CPA has a lot of volunteers. I’d like to give a high credit to those volunteers, from the English class, to the citizenship class, to the environmental issues. Every time, those volunteer contribute their time, they really care about the community, they work together and get the job done.

Q: We’ll talk about one last thing. There been various hearings about the system of the streets set up by the EPA, if you’re above Canal Street, you don’t get certain aides. Can you just give me an idea if this is a silly idea? It obviously doesn’t work to section off areas that way.

Chan: Right, definitely. EPA right now is very good with providing free home testings for those effected by 911 to check their homes’ air quality. But it’s not enough. As you said, it’s only below Canal Street. It cuts Chinatown in half.

Q: And air flows everywhere (laughter).

Chan: Right. It’s good, but not enough. Personally, I feel more. Not more free home tests. It’s like taking aspirin for a headache. It doesn’t really treat the main source. The main thing is outside, the air quality. I hope EPA thinks more about the outside quality. How to improve the area. The Chinatown area is largest residential area close to Ground Zero. Not only Chinese live in this area, but mixed people. The residents who live in this area is the frontier victims from 911. Those funding should be more concerned about this area or do more. But how to do and what to do, I think they should study more. Like some streets can be blocked totally for walking. No commercial traffic in residential area. I think this may help the pollution. The whole traffic system can be re-planned in the Chinatown area. Right now, the population is growing. No matter what, they should do more study and find a better solution for this area.

Q: It’s going to be very challenging I’m sure ‘cause all these problems did not happen over night. It’ll take a lot of efforts from a lot of organizations to make some good and permanent changes. I thank you and CPA for taking an active role and getting people to be more educated and doing your part. Thank you personally for your time and CPA for the work that you’re doing. Is there anything else you’d like to add that we have not talked about?

Chan: No. No (light laugher).

Q: Thank you very much. My name is Lan Trinh.

[end of session]

Chinatown Interview: Interview (zh)

<p> 問:今天是5月24日。我與Chris Chan在Canal街83號中國進步協會(Chinese Progressive Association),即CPA。待會兒,我們要進一步談一下近幾年來CPA在哮喘病方面所做的工作,但首先我們想瞭解一下你本人的情況。Chris,請跟我們講一下你是從哪里來的。</p>
<p>陳:實際上,我來自香港,和澳門。</p>
<p>問:澳門?</p>
<p>陳:是的,我出生在中國,但在我2歲的時候,我隨家人移居到澳門。我在澳門長大。在那裏上完高中之後,我去了香港。</p>
<p>問:好的。你來自中國哪里?爲什么你家人要搬去澳門?</p>
<p>陳:我不是非常清楚,但我想在共產黨佔領中國之後,我父母想要離開那個環境。他們就想辦法去了澳門。我在澳門長大,並在那裏度過了我的童年。</p>
<p>問:六、七十年代,那大約是什麽時代的事情?</p>
<p>陳:(笑)是的,大概在1960年左右,1970年初。高中畢業之後,我在香港找到一份工作,於是就去了香港。</p>
<p>問:你在澳門有沒有上雙語學校?你有沒有學葡萄牙語?</p>

<p> 陳:我去的不是雙語學校,只是普通的學校,中文學校。在我上到10年級、11年級的時候,我們學校開設了葡萄牙語課。因此,我確實有機會學了些葡萄牙語。</p>
<p>問:你在葡萄牙殖民地的童年是什么樣子的?顯然,你對中國沒有絲毫印象,因爲你離開的時候還很小?</p>
<p>陳:因爲澳門和中國非常近,我確實知道中國發生的事情。我仍然有些童年的記憶:我記得大家都把一些東西寄回到中國。</p>
<p>問:錢?</p>
<p>陳:是的,錢和物品,或者他們會自己帶一些東西回中國給他們的親戚或家人,這在那個時期很普遍。</p>
<p>問:高中畢業之後,你在香港找到一份什麽樣的工作?</p>
<p>陳:建築工人(笑聲)。澳門有很多生意。在中國最主要的生意是賭場。</p>
<p>問:在澳門?</p>
<p>陳:是的,直到現在,仍然是賭場業。除此之外,沒有其他的事情可做。因此,高中畢業之後,我很難找到工作。後來,我有一次去香港的機會。任何工作我都會去做。最後,我在建築領域中找到一份工作。</p>
<p>問:你是說體力勞動,像建樓房?</p>

<p> 陳:是的,建樓房。香港有很多高樓。那個時候,房地産業非常繁榮。因此,幹這個比較容易找工作。</p>
<p>問:那是在八十年代?</p>
<p>陳:七十年代末到八十年代初。</p>
<p>問:那個時候,香港的房地産非常繁榮?</p>
<p>陳:是的。是的。你即使沒有做過建築工人,他們也會雇你,在工地培訓你。你學了之後就可以練習。</p>
<p>問:到了香港之後,你爲什么又決定來美國?你是什麽時候決定來美國的?</p>
<p>陳:1984年4月。</p>
<p>問:因爲什么你決定來美國?</p>
<p>陳:我有機會過來。我姐姐已經在這裏了。她結了婚,能夠把我們申請過來。</p>
<p>問:你是說你姐姐申請你來美國的?</p>
<p>陳:是的。在我來之前,她來這裏上大學。後來就結婚了。獲得公民身份之後就申請我們過來了。</p>
<p>問:你來的時候有多大年紀?</p>
<p>陳:我於1957年出生。1984年是…27歲?對,是27歲。</p>

<p> 問:你那時在香港已經有了一些工作經驗,稍懂英文。在香港學了些英文。</p>
<p>陳:(笑聲)並非如此。</p>
<p>問:不是嗎(笑聲)?</p>
<p>陳:因爲在香港,我只是做工,基本上都是講中文。大多數人都講中文。當然在香港,英文很普及,但大多數做低級工作的人還是講中文。只是講些英文單詞,而且也不是標準發音。對於我來講,我認爲那根本不是英文。我到這裏之後很長一段時間都不適應。</p>
<p>問:那你是直接來到紐約的,因爲你姐姐已經在這裏了?</p>
<p>陳:是的。</p>
<p>問:你對紐約市的印象如何?</p>
<p>陳:因爲我姐姐住在皇后區。我對紐約的第一印象是:紐約不是一個現代化的城市(笑)。與有很多現代建築物和高樓大廈的香港相比。這裏都是水泥樓房。皇后區幾乎像個郊區一樣。那個時候,我家附近最高的樓房只有六層(笑聲)。</p>
<p>問:皇后區哪里?</p>
<p>陳:Kew Gardens。紐約市並不都是這樣。當然去了曼哈頓之後就知道不全是這樣的。我對曼哈頓不是非常熟悉,因爲在我來到紐約後的第三天,我在唐人街找到一份工作(笑聲)。因此,我一直都待在唐人街。<br>

沒有機會看真正的曼哈頓。我只是每天從Kew Garden到曼哈頓上班,然後回家。僅此而已。</p>
<p>問:你當時有沒有想到了美國之後做什么?</p>
<p>陳:我沒有任何計劃。我只是想找一份工作,因爲我要生存。我來紐約的時候,口袋裏只有60塊錢(笑聲)。第二天,我姐姐告訴我怎樣去唐人街。我買了份報紙,開始打電話。我非常幸運。三天之後,我在唐人街找到一份做裝修的工作。</p>
<p>問:是不是類似於你在香港建的高樓大廈?</p>
<p>陳:不是的。因爲這裏的牆壁是用岩石做的,不是水泥。結構不同,但還算可以。我覺得工作要容易一些。只是和在香港不太一樣。</p>
<p>問:那你來的時候是爲華人做工?</p>
<p>陳:是的。</p>
<p>問:你用不著講太多英文?</p>
<p>陳:是的,根本不需要。我還記得…有一次我在我家附近的街上走,對面有一些美國人,我就很害怕在那邊走(笑聲)。</p>
<p>問:在街的對面?</p>
<p>陳:是的,我害怕見那些人。講“Hi”或什么的。是的,在那個時候,我很害怕。但在唐人街待了大約一年半之後,我感到我必須要打破這個界限。如果我決定要呆在美國,我必須要學英文。<br>

我於是開始去那些ESL班練習。在那個時候,我不知道有免費課程,社區提供免費英語課程。於是,我就去那些付費的ESL班。我從最基礎的學起,像ABC字母。</p>
<p>問:非常基礎的。</p>
<p>陳:是的,非常基礎的。但那個時候,我還不知道哪里有那些課程。一直找不到。上課的時候,我根本聽不懂。沒有雙語的教師,我不知道是怎麽回事,他們在講什麽(笑聲)。我還記得我去的第一個班,三天之後,我就沒再去了。我完全不知道課的內容是什么。我跟不上。我試著看電視新聞,聽電臺廣播,一點一點地學。有一天我的確下定決心要花時間學英文。那是我在唐人街工作了兩年之後,在一次發了薪水之後,我確實想請我弟弟到中城麥當勞吃一頓飯。但當我去到那裏的時候,我不會點菜(笑聲)。他們不知道我在講什麽,我想…</p>
<p>問:那時你來美國也有兩年多了?</p>
<p>陳:是的,我想要巨無霸和薯條。我不停地說“土豆片”,他們說“我們沒有”。後來,我們只好回到唐人街吃飯。在那之後,我就想爲什麽我在美國生活了兩年後還不能去麥當勞吃飯?那對我是個恥辱。這確實激勵我要努力學習英文。</p>
<p>問:在紐約市生活了兩年後,你還不能在麥當勞點巨無霸和薯條,你覺得這很不好…</p>
<p>陳:是的,不好。</p>
<p>問:於是,你決定要學習,我是說認真學習英文。</p>

<p> 陳:我上了很多班,去了很多學校,看報紙。一些朋友告訴我哪里有課上,如果我有時間也會去的。我花了很長一段時間才開始入門。</p>
<p>問:那你在這期間仍然在唐人街做建築工人?</p>
<p>陳:沒有,在決定要認真學習英語之後,我就辭職了,在中城一家美國倉庫公司找到一份工作。我想儘量離開華人社區,迫使自己去一個英文的環境學英文。</p>
<p>問:你在這家倉庫做什么?</p>
<p>陳:這是一家堆放紡織品的倉庫。紡織品。他們公司有很多設計師,製造紡織品,做好之後就把成品送到倉庫裏面。其他公司會去那裏拿材料。我的工作是按照他們需要的碼數把紡織品切好給他們,並做記錄。他們有很多不同的設計,款式。</p>
<p>問:你做那份工作需不需要講英文?</p>
<p>陳:需要。我的英文有了進步。後來,我又換了幾個工作。但最後還是回到建築這一行。我對這個比較熟悉。</p>
<p>問:在你剛來唐人街的時候,在頭兩年,你對唐人街的印象如何?</p>
<p>陳:那個時候,唐人街對於我來講是與外界隔絕的一個區域。這是我的感覺。在唐人街,你用不著講英文。你完全可以講中文生存。你講中文什麽事情都可以做。那個時候,我覺得唐人街很古老。那些商店和餐館,食物都是古老的風格。<br>

在唐人街賣的商品也是古老風格的。在香港,你看到的都是新的東西。香港跟這裏不同,那裏有從各個國家運來的新産品,試探香港的市場。在唐人街,你會感到回到了16世紀!</p>
<p>問:遠遠落後於香港。</p>
<p>陳:是的,沒錯。</p>
<p>問:你覺得在唐人街生活習不習慣?</p>
<p>陳:習慣。人們很友好。許多華人願意相互幫助。這是我的感覺。</p>
<p>問:除了你姐姐之外,你在這裏不認識其他人嗎?</p>
<p>陳:不會。我有加入唐人街的教會(笑)。因此,我很快在教會交了一些朋友。</p>
<p>問:在去CPA之前,你在倉庫公司做了多久?</p>
<p>陳:我只在那裏做了一年,然後又找了另外一份工作。我有機會做建築師,畫透視圖。那是個臺灣公司。他們需要助手幫助畫透視圖。我在澳門的時候就喜歡畫圖。於是,我在那個公司學畫圖。我在那裏待了一年半。後來,我又去了一個發展公司做建築開發。很多華人要買房,把原有的房子拆了之後,再建三層或六層的樓房。我在那裏也做過。後來,我自己開建築公司。1999年,因爲房地産市場不太好,我關閉了公司,又回到了學校。</p>

<p> 問:你是什麽時候開始在CPA做事的?</p>
<p>陳:1989年,六四事件之後。在那之後不久,我去了城市學院。我去的第一所學校是LaGuardia學院。因爲我開始上學,而且又關閉了我的公司,我需要打一份散工。有人跟我講,說CPA在找一個社區組織者。於是,我就遞了我的簡歷,並於1992年開始在CPA工作。</p>
<p>問:在此以前,你有沒有參加過什么社區活動嗎?</p>
<p>陳:我有參加過教會的活動。其實也算不上是社區工作,只是幫助其他教友。但在六四事件期間,我的確非常積極,並且有機會接觸到不同的組織。我開始變得更加感興趣,並且更加瞭解社區服務了。因此,我對這方面産生了興趣。</p>
<p>問:這跟搞建築不一樣。</p>
<p>陳:確實很不一樣(輕聲地笑)。完全不同。我喜歡在CPA工作。學院畢業之後---我的專業是藝術和電腦圖形。</p>
<p>問:你喜歡在CPA工作的哪些方面?</p>
<p>陳:作爲一個基層組織,CPA直接向社區提供服務。它使我有機會瞭解社區,以及那裏的問題。我們能夠獲得如何幫助社區的第一手經驗。你可以看到結果,看到你的工作會給社區帶來怎樣的變化。這給了我很深的影響。</p>
<p>問:CPA向社區提供的服務包括哪些?</p>
<p>陳:CPA向社區提供一系列服務。首先是移民權利。我們有一個入籍專案,幫助那些符合條件或想瞭解入籍以及入籍程式的人。我們受理一些申請,並做些跟進的工作。我們開設了英文課和<br>

入籍班。我們自己做案子,並向他們提供資訊,教他們如何處理相關事務。除此之外,CPA還負責一些環保的問題。唐人街地區存在很多環保問題,因此CPA非常關心這些,並且對社區進行教育。比如,我們關心那些舊樓房鉛中毒的問題。唐人街有很多舊樓房。華人並不瞭解這些,但如果你知道了,你能有意識地保護這些舊樓房。你能保護你自己。使自己不會受到傷害。還有哮喘病和吸煙問題。在華人社區,吸煙非常普遍。越來越多的青少年吸煙。我們試圖在社區裏強調這個問題,尤其是青少年吸煙和被動吸煙。</p>
<p>問:我們談一下你所做的研究,我想是在2001年?</p>
<p>陳:2002年。</p>
<p>問:在2002年,你對580個人進行了調查?</p>
<p>陳:是的。</p>
<p>問:那是在唐人街地區。跟我們講一下那個調查。調查的確切範圍在哪里?你調查了哪些區域?</p>
<p>陳:自從1996年以來,EPA(環境保護局)公佈了一份曼哈頓地區汽油污染情況的報告。報告顯示Canal街是全市污染最嚴重的街道之一。我們認爲這是一個非常嚴重的問題。我們也知道一些CPA成員以及他們的朋友患有哮喘病。因此,CPA想要查明唐人街地區哮喘病的發病情況。在此之前,我們做過一些報告,有DOH的統計。該統計顯示唐人街地區兒童哮喘病患病率很低…</p>
<p>問:很低?</p>

<p> 陳:是的,非常低。當然這是指住院率。這些資料來源於醫院對患哮喘病和住院病人的記錄。在華人社區,很多人不會去醫院看病,也不去住院。</p>
<p>問:你是從哪里得到這些統計的?</p>
<p>陳:DOH,衛生局。我們認爲這僅僅是實際情況的一部分。在9/11之後,污染情況更加嚴重。這就是爲什麽我們決定要做哮喘病的調查,查明唐人街地區的真實情況。我們組織了很多志願者,對那份調查做了進一步的研究。我們走到街上,在公園裏,在圖書館,在唐人街各個地方做調查。有一些資料我們不能使用,因爲我們採訪的那些人不住在唐人街。一些調查資料我們不能用。最後,我們一共調查了唐人街580個家庭,都沒有集中在特定的區域。我們吃驚地發現,根據統計,五個家庭之中就至少有一個患哮喘病的。</p>
<p>問:你們是怎樣調查的?是不是隨機在不同的公衆場所問街上的行人?你們有沒有讓他們做呼吸測試?你們到底是怎麽做的?</p>
<p>陳:隨機調查。</p>
<p>問:回答問題單?</p>
<p>陳:我們用了三個月的時間準備問題單。</p>
<p>問:給我舉一個問題單上問題的例子。你們是怎樣確定別人是否患哮喘病?</p>

<p> 陳:在調查中,我們首先問他們住在哪里?接著,你是否呼吸有困難?是否被醫生確診患哮喘病,以及診斷時間?我們問一些類似的問題。</p>
<p>問:和EPA做出唐人街是紐約市污染最嚴重地區的統計結果相比,你的調查是否是使用同樣或者類似的方法?他們是怎樣獲得那些資訊的?你們是否使用了類似的方法?你知道他們是怎麽做的嗎?</p>
<p>陳:我忘記了。在我們準備問題單的時候,我們有DOH和EPA的範本。</p>
<p>問:你們做了些修改?</p>
<p>陳:是的,我們做了些修改。Mount Sinai醫院也做了他們自己的研究。我們有這兩套方式,做了些比較,然後創造了我們自己的模式。</p>
<p>問:唐人街有很多非盈利組織,爲什么CPA會出面做這個?</p>
<p>陳:實際上,我不太清楚。但在唐人街區域,我們大家都應該關心環境問題。也許是因爲資金問題,或者很多人覺得這不是一個嚴重的問題,因爲哮喘病,鉛中毒,和吸煙不會立即對健康産生影響。長期來看,會對以後有影響,但不是立即有影響。我們知道這些是很嚴重的問題,我們也同時知道哮喘病,鉛中毒和吸煙都能有效受到控制。如果你瞭解了,你就能夠保護自己。</p>
<p>問:你們做調查的時候有沒有包括不同年齡段的人?你說你們調查了580個家庭,包括兒童和老年人嗎?</p>

<p> 陳:是的。我們的調查沒有包括16歲以下的兒童。調查物件只是16歲以上的成人。我們有去老年人中心對老年人進行調查。在調查過程中,我們發現很多人不瞭解哮喘病,尤其是老年人。大多數老年人認爲哮喘病是兒童疾病。“用不著擔心。什麽也用不著做。他們長大之後,哮喘病會自動消失的。”諸如此類的想法。他們認爲如果你哮喘,就去做一些體育運動,跑步,游泳,使你的身體更強壯,這樣哮喘會消失的。那種想法。還有很多人認爲堅持吃一段時期的藥也會治癒哮喘病的。</p>
<p>問:看來你的調查顯示了兩樣事情:一個是唐人街的環境,空氣質量…</p>
<p>陳:是的。</p>
<p>問:其次是哮喘病,而且這兩件事是相關聯的。但比如,你剛才談到老年人。我想他們很多都來自中國,那裏男性吸煙非常普遍。這要看他們居住的地區,如果他們住在工廠附近或大城市裏,比如廣州,那裏環境污染非常嚴重,很多人在來之前就有患哮喘病的傾向,你很難說他們的哮喘病是唐人街的環境造成的。你懂我的意思嗎?有多少是因爲唐人街的污染造成的,又有多少是受以前在中國以及個人的影響?</p>
<p>陳:這是個很好的問題(笑聲)。根據我們的統計,哮喘病患者中51.1%是青少年。從整體來講,有三分之一哮喘病患者是在搬到唐人街地區之後被診斷患有哮喘病的。這就是說,在他們來美國之前,來紐約之前,沒有被診斷患任何病。但自從他們來到唐人街,尤其在9/11之後,他們呼吸就有了問題。這些症狀更加嚴重。可能正如你所講,是他們以前就有的。<br>

但事實告訴我們,9/11之後,整體上都有惡化。這是我們所見到的事實。</p>
<p>問:上一次報告是EPA在9/11之前,1996年做的?</p>
<p>陳:是的。但那份報告只顯示了汽油污染。並不包括所有的問題,空氣質量。但在9/11之後,我認爲這成爲了一個非常嚴重的問題。我在唐人街工作。那天,我在唐人街。在那之後,我只有一天沒有到唐人街來。後來,我每天都有到唐人街。我仍然記得在感恩節之後還能聞到空氣裏那種氣味。</p>
<p>問:那差不多是兩個月之後。</p>
<p>陳:前三個星期簡直是糟透了。即使把窗戶關上,到處都能夠聞到空氣裏非常強烈的難聞氣味。</p>
<p>問:你是否記得在9/11之後EPA對唐人街做了什麽污染的調查,因爲唐人街離世貿中心非常近?</p>
<p>陳:我聽說過,但記不大清楚了。是的,他們有做過,但不是在唐人街地區。而且,在9/11之後,人們只是關心Canal街以南的唐人街。我覺得很可笑(笑聲),因爲這個界限沒有任何意義,空氣是自由流動的。實際上,我們的辦公室在Canal街北面。但我每天還是能夠聞到。</p>
<p>問:根據你們的地點,在Canal街以北,你們有沒有資格領空氣篩檢程式或其他9/11的資金?</p>
<p>陳:沒有(笑聲)。</p>

<p> 問:那麽,作爲一個組織,因爲所處的位置,CPA沒有得到任何9/11資金嗎?</p>
<p>陳:沒有。</p>
<p>問:那你們做哮喘病研究的經費是從哪里來的?</p>
<p>陳:我忘記經費的問題了,但只有非常少的資金。</p>
<p>問:是私人提供的嗎?</p>
<p>陳:我想是私人提供的。CPA基本上是靠私人機構資助的。我們沒有得到太多的政府資金,因爲我們不是一個大的機構,儘管我們爲社區做了很多高質量的工作。自從政府削減開支以來,我們確實很難得到資助。我們現在有經費開設免費英文課。但這些經費不是因爲9/11獲得的。是以前的資金。CPA沒有得到舉辦工作培訓,英文輔導的資金。</p>
<p>問:唐人街有資格申請空氣篩檢程式和資金的地區是在Canal街和Pike街之間的區域嗎?</p>
<p>陳:那個區域以下。關於篩檢程式,你如果後來符合條件,也會在家裏申請到。</p>
<p>問:不論你在哪里?</p>
<p>陳:只要那裏的空氣受到影響。我知道很多在布魯克林區日落公園地區住的人也申請到了。</p>
<p>問:(打斷)唐人街空氣污染是因爲交通。曼哈頓橋在這邊,不遠又是布魯克林橋。這個區域交通堵塞比較嚴重。剛才你談到汽油污染。因此,唐人街在9/11之前就已經很糟糕了。<br>

EPA或者其他環保組織有沒有過問過這裏空氣污染的問題?就你瞭解,都採取了些什麽樣的措施來解決這個問題?</p>
<p>陳:據我所知,現在政府在唐人街地區做的事情不多。現在是越來越糟,因爲受9/11影響空氣質量下降,以及旅遊汽車。有一些私人公司經營去波士頓,華盛頓,費城的旅遊交通業務。</p>
<p>問:在東百老彙?</p>
<p>陳:是的,在東百老彙。還有Bowery街上去賭場的汽車。那些大卡車和大轎車。還有,總是在修橋。Canal街也總在修。施工,旅遊汽車,仍然有柴油卡車開過曼哈頓橋。</p>
<p>問:所有這些都與9/11沒有關係?唐人街一直都有這些?</p>
<p>陳:只是越來越糟。在9/11之後,這只是巧合。整個唐人街地區的空氣質量都變得越來越糟。越來越糟。</p>
<p>問:你一共做了多長時間的調查?</p>
<p>陳:我們從2002年春天開始,到2002年8月有了最終結果。</p>
<p>問:才6個月?你們有沒有重復調查?你們是怎樣收集資訊的?</p>
<p>陳:我們沒有做太多的跟進工作,因爲人手不夠,而且我們沒有經費做跟進的工作。現在,我們在開展一項唐人街社區哮喘病的專案。CPA有了一個更好的計劃。第一件事就是做更多的宣傳教育。第二件事是改善環境。第三件事是監控空氣質量。<br>

我們在朝這三個方向努力。現在,我們在申請經費,不知道能否有資金來做這些。我們要在這三個方面下功夫。</p>
<p>問:教育即是教育社區,讓居民和業主,在這裏工作和居住的人知道周圍環境發生的事情。針對這些研究結果,你都做了些什么?你們是怎樣利用這些調查報告取得市議員的關注的?你們是怎樣同政府交涉,以使這些問題得到改善的?</p>
<p>陳:在政府層面上,我們想要看到環境的改善。我們大家聚在一起想點子。比如,今年夏天,我們和其他組織合作,要製作一個記錄片,讓人們知道唐人街空氣污染的嚴重性。我們召集了一些青少年,就這個問題培訓他們,看他們會提出什麽樣的想法。我們希望這十分鐘的錄影會引起人們對唐人街環境污染問題的關注。我們還有另外一個想法,但還沒有一個確切的計劃,因爲我們有一個核心組織專門負責這個問題。另外一個想法是統計唐人街的植樹,再同環境發展搞得好的社區相比較,比如看有多少綠色區域。完成這一步之後,第二步就是要把這些送到市議會。</p>
<p>問:你的調查主要是針對哮喘病。9/11之後,你沒有做汽油污染以外空氣組成的調查?</p>
<p>陳:實際上通過監控空氣質量,我們已經得到了一些資訊。我們已經聯繫了做實地監控的部門。但這的確需要專業技術人員來搞。我們想與一些大學教授和博士專案合作,看他們是否有興趣研究唐人街地區的空氣質量。但我們明確知道那還是不夠。現在只是在郵局頂上有一個監控台。</p>

<p> 問:這是我們現在的狀況?</p>
<p>陳:是的,現在,這是我們僅有的。街道上沒有這些。我們計劃做更多的研究,看一下有哪個組織對街道水平的空氣質量感興趣。</p>
<p>問:在我看來,解決這個問題需要做兩方面的事情。交通等方面的事需要在市政府層面上解決。但比如像旅遊汽車等的事情需要在華人商業界範圍內解決。並不是由政府干涉,說你必須把車停在哪里。那是華人商業界的事情。那你們有沒有試圖跟他們聯繫,比如說讓他們把車停在其他地方,因爲他們也造成了唐人街的空氣污染。</p>
<p>陳:是的。在忙完手裏的工作之後,我們要跟那些商業組織聯繫,看他們有沒有什麽辦法做些改進。關於政府方面,也許在做了更多的研究之後,我們可能會建議比如說哪條街要改成單行道。那些柴油卡車應該繞道而行,而不是直接走Canal街。但在此之前我們必須要做更多的工作。</p>
<p>問:你認爲那些商業界人士會關心這些嗎?那些停在東百老彙的旅遊汽車公司和去賭場的汽車公司,你認爲他們會認識到從某種程度上講他們也造成了唐人街的空氣污染?還是說他們只是關心自己的生意?</p>
<p>陳:是的,他們確實關心自己的生意。但如果我們能找到更好的方式解決他們生意上的問題,同時又照顧到環境,這將對他們的旅遊業務和社區經濟都有幫助。必須有一些相互的利益。但如果沒有人去找這些相互促進的方式,這當然會不利於改善當前的形勢。如果我們花時間做些研究,去探求這種相互促進的方式,也許會有所改善。</p>
<p>問:在跟很多唐人街社區的民衆談過話之後,我總感覺到他們認爲政府,市里對唐人街不夠重視,<br>

尤其是在9/11之後。但在我看來,似乎社區本身很多事情也沒有做好。</p>
<p>陳:我本人認爲,那些商業組織只是顧自己。換句話說,他們只是關心如何做好自己的生意,而不去注意環保。但他們確實聞得到臭味,尤其是在夏天,大家都知道這對旅遊業不利。我想指出我們對面的鄰居,小義大利區,整條街都是餐館,但他們就沒有那種氣味。他們是怎麽做的?爲什麽他們能夠做到?如果我們能夠改進---</p>
<p>問:你是否認爲那些義大利餐館老闆在共同合作方面做得比華人好?</p>
<p>陳:我不知道。我想應該有人做些研究。他們怎樣處理垃圾?怎樣保持街道清潔?他們爲什麽經營餐館卻沒有那種臭味(笑聲)?在我們做了研究之後,我們要看是否唐人街能夠採取相同的措施。唐人街能否做到這些?我想他們會認識到,如果他們多做一些努力,或者稍加注意一些,他們能夠改善環境狀況,除掉難聞的氣味,這對他們也是有好處的。我相信他們會這樣做的,因爲這關係到他們的生意。如果門前很乾淨而且沒有臭味,顧客自然都會來的。</p>
<p>(換磁帶。中斷)</p>
<p>問:你說到你很欣賞在同一條街的小義大利區,同在Mulberry和Mott街上,僅隔一條街,能夠管理得沒有唐人街的那種氣味(笑聲)。我想問你一個不太禮貌的問題,你是否覺得華人以自己的環境爲榮?因爲如果你看中國,你是否認爲唐人街在某種程度上是中國的一個縮影,在人們的生活方式上?做生意的方式上?彼此的交流上?走在街上,我看到很多商販<br>

把所有的東西都擺在街上。把所有的東西,所有的垃圾丟在街上。從很多方面來講,華人是否真正關心自己周圍的環境?</p>
<p>陳:我認爲他們是沒有這種意識。正是因爲這個原因,我們要教育他們。我想華人自身也愛乾淨。但他們不知道怎麽做。沒有人給他們樹立榜樣。我想以香港爲例。我記得,在60年代的時候,街上都有很多垃圾。但政府搞運動,鼓勵人們保持街道清潔。他們甚至設計了一個卡通人物,一個垃圾蟲。後來,城市就變了。當時,人們知道那是好事情。但在唐人街,沒有人行動,沒有人提出以及認真對待這個問題。</p>
<p>問:你認爲教育是一方面,在環境污染方面,他們不知道他們的行爲會給環境帶來哪些影響。</p>
<p>陳:是的。沒有人組織計劃過,告訴他們該怎樣做。不但是要教育他們,讓他們知道保持環境清潔對他們有益,而且要跟他們講需要做些什么,以及怎樣做。我自己總是在想,就在街對面,小義大利區就完全不一樣。我們要花時間去研究,看唐人街能否採取類似的措施,或者找到更好的方式來解決這個問題。</p>
<p>問:我們有沒有和小義大利社區聯繫,請教他們是如何保持環境清潔的?</p>
<p>陳:我不負責這些事情,因此我本人不清楚。但我知道除了我們以外還有其他一些組織比較關注環保問題,比如Clean Up Chinatown。鑒於對唐人街街道清潔問題的關注,他們特別成立了這個組織。也許他們比我們做了更多的事情。</p>
<p>問:看了你的研究報告之後,我想你提出的問題之一就是蟑螂。</p>

<p> 陳:是的。</p>
<p>問:我們都知道,唐人街有很多餐館,而且餐館上面還有很多住家,只要樓下有餐館,那些樓裏就免不了會有蟑螂。你是否認爲唐人街哮喘病患者的數目同唐人街對餐館業的依賴性有關?</p>
<p>陳:我不知道。我想應該是沒有關係,因爲每一個哮喘病人發病原因都不一樣。並不只是因爲蟑螂,或氣味。有時是因爲吸煙。有時是因爲香水。無論如何,這些都造成了環境污染。而且,這些都能夠得到有效控制和改善的。</p>
<p>問:蟑螂問題能夠得到控制?你是這個意思嗎?</p>
<p>陳:不是,我是說從整體來看。是的。某種程度上來講,蟑螂問題也是如此(笑聲)。只是他們要稍加注意。這是能夠做到的。</p>
<p>問:在調查中你提到五個人當中有一個---</p>
<p>陳:家庭。五個家庭裏有一個。</p>
<p>問:五個家庭裏有一個人?</p>
<p>陳:不對。五個家庭中有一個家庭。</p>
<p>問:五個家庭中的一個家庭。</p>
<p>陳:是的,至少一個家庭裏有哮喘病患者。</p>

<p> 問:這比衛生局按照哮喘病住院病人的標準所做出的統計結果要高。你提到很多患哮喘病的華人不去醫院。</p>
<p>陳:因爲華人習慣吃從藥店裏買來的中國進口的藥。</p>
<p>問:或者是中藥?</p>
<p>陳:是的,或許是中藥。在那些華人藥店,你能找到醫治各種疾病的藥。治身體上每一個部位的病(笑聲)。如果你禿頂,吃這個或那個。只要是你能夠講出來名字的病,他們都有藥治。是否奏效卻是另外一回事。大多數華人會吃這些藥。那是中國那邊的習慣。他們如果生了病,第一件事就是去藥店,而不是去看醫生。他們去藥店找一些西藥或中藥來吃,如果不管用,再試其他一些方法。如果後來他們的病情變得越來越嚴重,那他們不得不去看醫生。因此,醫生不是他們的第一選擇。首選是去藥店買藥。</p>
<p>問:華人有種想法,認爲哮喘病並不嚴重。認爲過了一段時間之後會自然好的。</p>
<p>陳:是的。所以,他們不把哮喘病當成一個嚴重的問題,就好像吸煙。每個人都吸煙,沒有什麽大不了的?爲什么總把它當成很大的一件事?人們的觀念需要改變。我們也負責吸煙的問題。大多數人不知道一支香煙裏含有多少有毒物質。如果他們知道裏面有四千多種對身體有害的化學成分,我想他們下一次拿起香煙要點的時候會多考慮一些。但他們並不知道這些。因此,我們首先要進行教育。</p>

<p> 問:據你所知,EPA或者其他機構,有沒有對唐人街的空氣質量或空氣污染做過長期的研究,調查在9/11之後這個地區的空氣中是否增加了一些新的未知的物質?</p>
<p>陳:我自己沒有印象。EPA做了一項空氣質量的研究,但他們未公佈任何資料。</p>
<p>問:除了像CPA這麽小的組織,除了你自己做的這些事情,你認爲EPA還能做些什麽來改善現狀?其他組織又能做些什么來解決這個問題?這是這個地區主要的問題,我認爲這要由很多機構組織起來共同解決這個問題,從交通到清潔,很多很多的事情。</p>
<p>陳:CPA已經開始與其他組織合作。希望這樣的聯繫會越來越多。使更多的組織參與進來,使他們對這個地區和這些問題産生興趣。CPA不是自己做事情,我們需要與其他組織合作。比如,CPA與六家不同的醫院合作,讓他們瞭解唐人街的問題。我們也與很多較大的組織有聯繫,像一些聯合組織,看他們是否有興趣幫助我們。</p>
<p>問:值得注意的是,現在9/11已經過去兩年多了,能夠通過追蹤調查看到---,我們知道在9/11以後,空氣質量顯然變得越來越差,但你仍然不清楚世貿中心的倒塌會使多少人患哮喘病,或受其他潛在的對身體健康有害的因素的影響。</p>
<p>陳:現在我們還不知道。我們做了很多工作,但因爲我們人力有限,還不瞭解整個局面。如果要深入瞭解,我們需要讓更多的組織加入進來。這是我們的希望,以及今後要做的事情。</p>
<p>問:你認爲唐人街普通的華人對此會有多少瞭解或有多么關心?如果你是一個新移民,剛剛來到美國或者紐約,<br>

你多半會到唐人街工作或做其他什麽事情。你認爲他們會想“啊,這裏空氣不好,也許我不應該待在這裏?”你認爲一般的華人會想到這些嗎?</p>
<p>陳:沒錯。很多新移民住在Canal街上,接近東百老彙,很多是福州人。我們在工作當中經常要接觸很多福州人,合法移民和非法移民都有。他們頭腦中的首要任務絕對不是環境問題。他們要爲生存而奮鬥,所以首要的事情是賺錢。如何安頓下來,過上好生活。一個非常普遍的問題是很多家庭爲了讓母親有時間工作而把孩子送回中國。這是很悲傷的事情。他們主要關心的是怎樣賺錢,以及怎樣賺更多的錢(笑聲)。他們有很多傷心的故事。他們自然不會想到環境問題,但這並不意味著我們不應該告訴他們。我們要通過各種渠道努力教導他們。至少是怎樣在日常生活中保護自己。</p>
<p>問:給我們舉幾個人們能在這裏保護自己的例子。其一,很明顯就是不要吸煙。</p>
<p>陳:比如,他們不知道吸煙以及被動吸煙是多麽有害。他們沒有這種概念,因爲這在中國不是很嚴重的事情。很多人都吸煙,在家裏或者其他場合。因此,我們跟他們講真實的情況。我們告訴他們,如果他們確實要吸煙,那至少要離開房間。如果吸煙的人不這樣做,那么你要離開房間。還有鉛中毒的問題,尤其是在舊樓房裏。他們應該知道不要開防火窗。要多加注意窗罩,脫落的漆。還有你剛才提到的蟑螂的問題,他們只是需要多加注意。在唐人街曼哈頓橋和Williamsburg橋地區有很多的鉛塵。在那兒周圍居住的人要多加注意。不要打開窗戶。在家要使用空氣篩檢程式或空調。</p>

<p> 問:聽起來你還有很多工作要做。第一步就是要獲得更多的資金繼續做研究。一旦有了所有的資料,你要同唐人街各界組織聯繫,包括市里和政府層面。</p>
<p>陳:現在,CPA是很多主流聯盟的成員。比如,紐約移民聯盟,美國亞裔聯邦,和紐約禁煙聯盟。我們想把各個團體都團結起來,希望將來能夠解決唐人街的問題。</p>
<p>問:聽起來你有很多工作要做(笑聲)。我祝你好運。</p>
<p>陳:實際上,並不是我或CPA在做這些。CPA有很多志願者。我要感謝他們幫助我們開英文課和入籍班,以及在環境問題上的幫助。那些志願者每次都貢獻出他們的時間,他們確實關心社區,他們在一起工作,完成了我們的任務。</p>
<p>問:我們要談最後一件事情。很多人都提到EPA建立的街道系統,如果你在Canal街以上,你得不到一些補助。你是否覺得這是一個愚蠢的想法?很明顯,用這種方式把這些區域分開不起作用。</p>
<p>陳:是的,的確是。現在,EPA在爲那些受9/11影響家裏空氣質量下降的家庭免費做實地檢測。但這還是不夠。正如你所說,只是限於Canal街以下。這樣把唐人街切成兩半。</p>
<p>問:而且,空氣到處流動(笑聲)。</p>
<p>陳:是的。做的是不錯,但還是不夠。我本人認爲要多做一些。不是說要多做些免費實地檢測。就好像吃阿司匹林治頭痛一樣。並沒有治癒主要的病症。主要的問題在室外,空氣質量。我希望EPA更加關注室外空氣質量。<br>
如何改善這一區域的狀況。唐人街是Ground Zero附近最大的住宅區。不僅華人住在這裏,還有很多其他族裔居民。在這裏居住的人位於9/11受害者的最前線。應該有更多的資金投入到這裏,做更多的事情。但如何做,以及做什么,我認爲他們需要做更多的研究。比如,一些街道要改成步行街。住宅區不應該有商業交通。我想這會對解決污染問題有幫助。整個唐人街地區的交通系統要重新規劃。現在,這裏的人口日益增長。無論如何,他們應該做更多的研究,爲這個區域找到更好的解決方法。</p>
<p>問:我相信這將非常具有挑戰性,因爲所有這些問題並不是一夜之間産生的。獲得良好和永久的改善需要很多組織做出大量努力。我感謝你和CPA積極的參與,對民衆的宣傳教育,以及盡了自己的一份力。特別感謝你和CPA花費這麽多時間做這些工作。還有什麽我們沒談到你需要補充的嗎?</p>
<p>陳:沒有了(輕笑聲)。</p>
<p>問:非常感謝你。我是Lan Trinh。</p>

Citation

“Chris Chan,” September 11 Digital Archive, accessed March 28, 2020, https://911digitalarchive.org/items/show/88961.