Ironically, just about the same time as you published the informative article on Betty Yau’s role in Quincy, there was the tragedy of Li Rong Zhang and the death of her son, Brandon Yang. I can’t even begin to imagine the state of mind she must have been in to do such a thing. But in a way, it’s not such a surprise either, when you consider some people’s feelings of isolation. I’ve been made aware, as a Germantown resident of twenty two years, of the isolation and loneliness that many non-English speaking residents must feel, and of these adults’ dependence on their children.
At Our Lady of Good Counsel Church, I met an Asian, non-English speaking woman who expressed to me, through her daughter, her feelings of isolation and loneliness. Another neighbor of mine, a Chinese woman in her fifties who knows no English, told me this through her daughter very recently when they spent the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays with us. When they were having trouble with some other neighbors last year, we arranged a meeting at an office in Housing with a Housing representative, Betty, and a police lieutenant.
Living next to Housing gives a new perspective and experience in everyday life here. I grow a vegetable garden in the warmer weather, and this has given me an opportunity to interact with neighbors who also enjoy gardening but don’t speak any English. We have exchanged seeds and vegetables. One woman now knows how to say “To-ma-to!” And I now grow Chinese squash and bok choy from the seeds she gave me. Last year, I gave one of these squash to Tackey Chan for his mother.
Germantown, itself, is an isolated section of Quincy (no shopping, e.g.), which contributes to these feelings, as opposed to living in other parts of Quincy, where there are grocery stores, etc. Part of the problem is difficulty with reading bus schedules. I wonder if there is some sort of community meeting place for socializing / outreach program already in existence here that could be strengthened. If not, I hope one is started. Also, a community garden would be a great way to accomplish some of these goals, along with a farmers’ market. It can be done with minimal investment if it is done by people in the community, Asians and non-Asians alike.
A lot of people say Asians make good neighbors and are quiet (but they don’t really know them). Sometimes, this is because of the language or the culture. I think this could be part of the problem.