Notes From the Field – Chinatown New Year’s Festival

A couple of weeks ago, the Go Folic! Staff and I tabled at the Chinatown New Year’s Street Fair. This was my first event with the program. It was bright and sunny, but still cold from the rainstorm we had the previous day.

It was my job to pass out coupons for free vitamins with the location of our booth that was set up on Washington street between Grant and Stockton. Mei Lin had armed me with a catch phrase in Cantonese, “Mein phi wei ta ming!” which translates to “free vitamins!” I was nervous that I would butcher the pronunciation and offend people, but I was determined to get the word out. I made my way to a line of people waiting at a booth. I opened up my mouth and with all the confidence I could muster up I shouted “Mein phi wei ta ming!” Immediately, heads turned and I held my breath for their reaction. What I got was surprise followed by warm smiles and a few chuckles. People began to gather and hold out their hands for the coupons. One woman said, “You speak Cantonese?” I replied, “I try!”

Later on that day, I saw some of the people from that line at our booth receiving their vitamins. When we made eye contact we would wave or smile. Just these few interactions made me feel like I was apart of the community. By the end of the day I was comfortable with my phrase and even attempted new ones. I thought to myself this is what community building is all about!

Check out the video on YouTube and watch us in action!

Joy geen! (“Bye!” in Cantonese :))


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