After more than 9 years of thriving in your city, the pandemic uprooted my life and brought me to America. While I’ve always been here as a frequent holidaymaker who knows its culture and ways, carving a fresh chapter as its new immigrant is a different story. Fortunately, my path led me to building a new home in an unfamiliar US city that sparkled with Asian familiarity – Quincy, Massachusetts.
Part of metropolitan Boston as one of its southern suburbs, Quincy prides itself for being home to the largest Asian population in the state. The community is primarily composed of Chinese, Vietnamese and Indian immigrants from Hong Kong, Taiwan and East India back in the 80s. Today, the diaspora is well integrated and considered one of the core foundations of the progressive city evidenced by businesses, organizations and leaders with the ethnic background.
Yet, there’s more to this than meets the eye. As I was navigating my journey in the new place, came another hard-hitting tragedy that directly targets my community. Due to the origin of the COVID-19 virus which was aggravated by biased perceptions and unfair opinions, AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) hate crimes suddenly escalated. While I feel secure in what I see around my friendly and safe neighborhood, I can’t help but ponder how others are coping, especially those innocent souls who are painfully and helplessly victimized.
For a deeper understanding about the nationwide issue, I’ve spoken to one of my newfound friends here, Jenn Nguyen. She’s a first-generation immigrant whose parents migrated to the country after the Vietnam war. While her physical attributes and bloodline spell her Vietnamese roots, she was born, brought up, schooled, and has reached adulthood here in the US. She’s technically an American in her thoughts, words, actions, beliefs and principles. Yet, she is and will always remain a target simply because of how she looks – and there are millions just like her. For sure, it is more painful to experience such a challenge for those who see this country as their real and only home.
Jenn shared that it has not been an easy childhood. She needed to live the dynamics of having to adjust to multiple cultures daily – her Vietnamese parents, American school and Asian neighborhood. While building her identity and searching for her true niche, she always encountered polarizing values that lead to making life-changing jumps. While grateful to her parents’ decision to settle here, enabling her to have access to good education, healthcare and quality of life, her visit to Vietnam in 2019 triggered a ‘what if’ discernment. After spending a couple of weeks there, she suddenly fell in love with the country and culture which could’ve defined her should life have turned differently. Today, while she lives a full life as a successful HR practitioner in one of the largest healthcare networks in the US and a speaker advocating for diversity and inclusivity through SpeakOUT Boston, Jenn takes pride in finding her voice that upholds, defends and loves her interconnected communities. Like other AAPIs, she’s hopeful that this trial will pass, and equality rooted from respect shall prevail.
Beyond the Asian friendly façade of Quincy, I saw the profound meaning of ‘Asia in America’ in Jenn’s eyes. They speak of family love that runs in our core – it’s our ‘why’ which makes every waking morning worth living. They speak of our bodies being just a vessel – the color of our skin doesn’t determine our soul’s values nor our inner voice. And they speak of home, existentially defined as a place where we find the best version of our work-in-progress selves, continuing to passionately seize every single day – purposefully, meaningfully.
6-month young to this place that I now happily consider home, here’s my top picks for a legit Asian flair fix:
Kam Man Food (President Plaza, 219 Quincy Ave, Quincy, MA 02169) – The hypermarket that offers everything Asian. From grocery items, fresh produce, baked goods to cooked meals, you’ll be surprised to find China, Thailand, Japan, Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam and Korea under one roof.
Wollaston Area (Hancock St, Quincy, MA 02171) – A walkable neighborhood with a long strip and side streets filled with Asian establishments such as restaurants, banks, clinics, salons, law firms, milk tea shops and more.
Pho Linh (409 Hancock St, Quincy, MA 02171) – By far the best Vietnamese restaurant for your pho and spring rolls craving. Family-owned and considered one of the institutions in the block, they offer a good variety with generous serving portions for each menu item.
Royal (227 Parkingway, Quincy, MA 02169) – A restaurant, bar and KTV in one, it’s my oriental ‘go to’ for hotpot, sushi and Korean BBQ. Not to mention that they also offer all-you-can eat buffet options to match that big appetite.
The China (681 Hancock St, Quincy, MA 02170) – Its name and building structure is a street landmark. Fulfilling that ‘east meets west’ concept, the resto and sports bar offers an array of dim sum, tapas and pub food. Perfect spot to watch sports from their screens or chill while their resident DJ spins.