Monthly Archives: April 2009

Brooklyn’s Chinatown: An immigrant community awaits spring awakening

by Hou-Kai Chen

Hou-Kai is a caseworker in the family counseling program of Center for Family Life. Born in Taiwan, he now helps Asian families living in Brooklyn’s Chinatown find stability and build a nurturing and dynamic community.

hou-kaiWalking in Brooklyn’s Chinatown, which stretches along 8th Avenue from 39th to 65th street, at first you may be surprised at the mixture of food fragrances from restaurants and grocery stores and at its high density of residents. It is a shelter for new immigrants of Chinese heritage. You may feel like you’re walking in a foreign country, as a “frozen tradition” guides everyday life here – a way to comfort residents’ nostalgia. The area is a tiny cradle that bears more people than its capacity can endure. People here live in a twilight zone where they are neither geographically close to their homeland nor emotionally attached to the land of their dreams. Language barriers, culture differences, byzantine bureaucracies and other complications, as well as mistrust carried over from a catastrophic past and other traumatic experiences wall them off from mingling with the mainstream.

To many Americans who are foreign to Chinese culture, they may look indistinguishable. Meanwhile, they may not want to be understood or recognized. The way they learned to survive is to be anonymous. Collectively, they represent a group of people sharing common characteristics such as diligence, perseverance, low profile, acceptance of their destiny, and struggles for daily survival.

Continue reading


Leave a comment

Filed under Center for Family Life, Family Counseling Program, Immigrants in NYC

Hot pink T-shirts emblazoned with “Si Se Puede!”

Ode Magazine is a great publication in print and a vibrant, international online community interested in the people and ideas that are changing our world for the better. They recently published an article about the Si Se Puede!/We Can Do It!  Cooperative, which you can read here.

To learn more about this amazing group of ladies and their housecleaning business, visit their website at

Leave a comment

Filed under Fair Work, Immigrants in NYC, Worker Cooperative Project

“Every voice was heard.”

The Home Reporter and Sunset News recently published a story on how the Sunset Park community organized to advocate for the first high school  in the neighborhood. Here are some excerpts of the article:

“It has been a long haul filled with a lot of challenges,” said Julie Stein Brockway, chair of the Sunset Park High School Task Force

Stein Brockway was among the community representatives who greeted Mayor Bloomberg and City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein when the two men visited the high school site on March 1.

The Sunset Park High School Task Force, which was organized a few years ago at the behest of Community Board Seven, is composed entirely of volunteers representing a cross section of the neighborhood.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Community Collaborations, Education, School-Based Youth Development Programs