“Why not go somewhere and learn something new?” might be Christine Chou’s slogan. The owner of several Chinese restaurants over the years, she has many interests including international travel, Irish and belly dancing, and writing.
Energy and spirit
You hear that spirit of adventure underlying every chapter of Christine’s life story. From Taiwan, she came to Boston, then to Hampden. She was restless at home with a small child, so she took a cosmetology course. Then she packed up her kit and her son and went to clients’ homes to cut their hair.
When she began to work in her family’s Chinese restaurants, she realized there was a communication problem. “The wait staff would say ‘not spicy’ and the cooks wouldn’t understand,” she says. With four restaurants and at least eight cooks, it was a big problem.
Additionally, she realized, “My own English needed work.” That sent her straight to Literacy Volunteers.
Student, tutor, mentor
Christine got a tutor and worked until she was satisfied with her progress. Then she began tutoring her workers. She also invented a shorthand for her staff to use–“ER for eggroll, 007 for chicken fingers” (think “Goldfinger”).
She has continued to mentor and tutor Chinese immigrants throughout her career. She has also taught Chinese to English speakers, for free, but says few stick with that difficult language.
Christine maintains close contact with Literacy Volunteers and has often returned to help out with events. Recently she was a panelist at our tutor workshop “Toolkit for Tutors.” Over the years, she had donated thousands of dollars to Literacy Volunteers through the sale of her self-published book A Chinese Woman’s Thoughts on American Culture.