Chinese American communities are among the largest in the United States. People from China are found throughout the country, but a large percentage live in California and New York City.
Despite the challenges they face, Chinese immigrants are a vibrant part of these cities and suburbs. Their communities are rich in culture and traditions.
One of the most important institutions in Chinese society is the family. Traditional Chinese family values are based on Confucian thought and have endured throughout history.
The importance of family in Chinese culture has led to an elaborate kinship terminology system. Different relatives have their own names and different words to address them depending on their age, gender, and other factors.
These conventions are a reflection of the Confucian emphasis on hierarchy and roles in society (see the section on how to talk about family members below). This focus on relationships reflects the fundamental tenet of Confucianism, which is that order is paramount in human life and society.
In China, not all people were able to live in families, so many groups provided shelter for those who could not. Flood, fire, famine, war, banditry, plague, infertility, flight from the law, madness, and willful disregard of social mores were just some of the conditions that might leave an individual without a family to live with.
A longtime presence in Chinatown, the Chinese Immigrant Service Center (CISC) is a volunteer-powered institution with an impressive slew of social service programs and events. Its mission is to provide social services and community building opportunities that enhance the quality of life for Chinese-American immigrants in New York City.
The organization boasts three drop-in centers in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens staffed by bilingual counselors and outreach workers with a high level of commitment to the local community. They offer everything from employment training to senior citizen programs, culturally relevant health education to civic engagement activities and more.
The aforementioned tri-state area based nonprofit CISC has been around for over 40 years and is widely regarded as the leading provider of linguistically and culturally appropriate social services to the Asian American community. Their award winning website serves as the go-to source for information and resources relating to their many programs. The organization also offers a multitude of community activities and philanthropic endeavors that help the local Chinese population and their neighbors achieve success in education, family, career and community.
Education is a crucial aspect of the Chinese community’s life. It is an important tool to enhance one’s worth and career and it has been a mainstay of the Chinese culture for centuries.
Education in China is a complex process that involves many different forms of learning. Students receive education in primary school (grades 1-6) and secondary school (grades 7-12).
After completion of primary and secondary school, students attend colleges and universities to further their knowledge. This can be in the natural sciences, which include physics, chemistry and biology; or social sciences, which include geography, history and ideology and political science.
During the past 50 years, the government has made tremendous efforts to improve China’s educational system. This includes funding new schools, repairing old ones and improving teaching equipment.
Religion is a set of beliefs and practices aimed at explaining the world (natural or supernatural), maintaining social stability, and providing a foundation for moral/ethical, economic, and political reasoning. It may also be a mechanism for maintaining individual psychological well-being.
Many people turn to religion for comfort in a time of crisis. There are a variety of religions, including Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism.
Some people believe that religion is a side effect of the normal functioning of subconscious intuitive mental faculties. These faculties help humans link events that don’t make sense with those that do.
In Chinese culture, zongjiao is commonly used to refer to religion, although it doesn’t carry the connotations of “religiousness” that Westerners would be more likely to use. This is because Chinese religions don’t emphasize exclusivity or doctrine like Christianity does. Rather, they place emphasis on the importance of ancestors and gods. These are the primary strands of religion in Chinese history and continue to play an important role in Chinese society today.