Chinese in Columbia
Lai has lived in Columbia for six years, while Mao has been here seven and a half. They each like the city for different reasons.
"It's small enough that you don't have to drive too far to go to find your friends and do things with, and it's close enough that you can go to the major airports and so you can fly to different places," said Lai."The thing in China is we have lots of people. If you go out during holidays or in your spare time if you want to go out in the park, then you always see lots of people and on streets lots of traffic, but here I just love when you go to parks you really go into nature," added Mao.
In addition, markets cater to the Chinese community by selling everything from everyday necessities to specialty items usually found only in China. But it wasn't always that way."When I first moved here in '77, of course, there were very few Asian people living here, and when we needed to purchase the stuff for Chinese traditional dishes, it was very difficult," recalled Hsaio-Mei Weidmeyer, president of Friends of China.
Religion is another way for the Chinese community to find friends.
"The first thing I usually do is go find churches, so once you go there and you find people, hopefully, from the same age," said Lai, who is the worship leader at International Community Church, a non-denominational center where 70 percent of the congregation is Chinese.
"I include a lot of stories from Chinese history, from Chinese folklore, from Chinese culture as examples to try to help them come in," explained Pastor Paul Fox.
Chinese also come to Columbia because of the educational system.
"We have great public schoools and the Chinese are very interested in the education of their children," said Mayor Darwin Hindman.
All of those factors mean Wing-Cheung Lai and Chunfeng Mao plan to make Columbia their home for many years to come.