Chinatown Class

Our Experimental College encourages current students to develop and teach a class for the Tufts community. Previous classes have included those based on personal interests, current events, and more. What would you teach and why?

The pungent smell of durian, balanced by the sweet, tantalizing scent of xiao long bao samples, greet me when I step into the brightly-lit supermarket. My mother’s voice rings out behind me– “Remember, no candy!”– as I traverse the colorful aisles, grabbing my favorite snacks: salted seaweed, shrimp crackers, and mochi ice-cream. Just another Saturday afternoon, another trip to Chinatown.

For as long as I remember, my family has set aside one afternoon each month to visit New York’s lively Chinatown district, a tradition that has shaped my identity. To younger me, Chinatown represented a safe haven free from judgement and prejudice, where I was surrounded by not only Chinese people, but Chinese-Americans, just like me. Every time we visited, I drew strength from these cooks, storeowners, and hair-dressers who’d forged successful lives in this country, while remaining unapologetically true to their roots.

In AP US History, my favorite junior-year class, we briefly discussed ethnic enclaves like Chinatown and their emergence during the late-1800’s. I was fascinated by how these neighborhoods thrived over the years, remaining cultural hubs today. Visiting Chinatown now, it blows my mind the inherent history in each church,...

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