Meet some of our BCNC families and read their stories below.
“BCNC is like our second home. As new immigrants, you don’t really have a home yet, but the community at BCNC is very welcoming.”
“I used to be very quiet and shy, and I didn’t talk to anyone because I’m deaf. But BCNC staff helped me work on being brave and proud of who I am.”
Yanyi Weng’s Story: Finding a Home in New Place
When Yanyi Weng and her family immigrated to Boston from China in 2003, none of the family spoke English. Shortly after Yanyi’s father came to BCNC for English classes, he was diagnosed with cancer and passed away in November 2003. Yanyi recalls the deep sense of loneliness, “That winter felt extremely cold because my mother, little brother, and I were left in a strange place barely knowing the language.” However, BCNC became a place of support for the family: Yanyi’s mother Chunye would learn English, child development and parenting. “BCNC taught me how to work with the school system to help my children,” said Chunye, whose son has hearing loss.
BCNC staff helped Chunye gain English as well as confidence and eventually helped her secure a job with Uniqlo, one of BCNC’s employer partners. Chunye also is an advocate for other new immigrants. “BCNC helped me to help new immigrants,” said Chunye. “When you first come to the U.S., you have to work hard to adjust to the environment. If new immigrants need help, I want to help them.” Today, she is a member of a planning committee for Mass Pike Towers, where she lives and advocates for tenants’ rights.
After school, BCNC is where Yanyi learned English and leadership skills. Yanyi shares, “BCNC is where I learned to get involved with the community.” Later she represented Chinatown on the Mayor’s youth council and ran the Boston Marathon for BCNC, raising $10,000. Today, Yanyi is currently pursuing a Master of Social Work degree and hopes to become a therapist, because she feels that there aren’t enough Asian American therapists. “BCNC is like our second home,” said Yanyi. “As new immigrants, you don’t really have a home yet, but the community at BCNC is very welcoming.”
Mrs. Chow’s Story: From Hopelessness to Empowerment
When Wendy Chow immigrated from Macau in 1991, she was illiterate and didn’t know any English. Her husband worked long hours at a restaurant, leaving Mrs. Chow as the primary caretaker of their three children. When she enrolled her one-and-a-half-year-old daughter Ivy in BCNC’s early education program, teachers identified Ivy’s hearing loss and referred Mrs. Chow to early intervention.
Mrs. Chow regularly met with the childcare program director, angry or in tears because she was so overwhelmed and frustrated with navigating the education and healthcare systems. The director referred Mrs. Chow to English and parenting classes at BCNC. BCNC staff accompanied her to school meetings and her children participated in BCNC after school and youth programs. Her daughter Ivy shares: “I used to be very quiet and shy, and I didn’t talk to anyone because I’m deaf. But BCNC staff helped me work on being brave and proud of who I am.”
BCNC encouraged Mrs. Chow to join an advocacy group for immigrant parents. Her limited English skills did not stop her from serving on the parent council at her children’s school and the Boston Public Schools Special Needs Parent Advisory Council. “We fought very hard, and now we have a voice in the system. Now, parents are more informed of their rights,” says Mrs. Chow.
Today, Mrs. Chow’s children are thriving in college and the workforce. Mrs. Chow remains active as a BCNC parent leader and volunteer. She recruits families to BCNC and trains and organizes parents in the community. When she first came to BCNC, Mrs. Chow felt hopeless—now, she has grown into a strong advocate who speaks up for her family and empowers others in the community.