Chinese celebrate new year with confidence (video)
As evidence of the growth of Rochester's Chinese community, Saturday's annual Chinese New Year celebration included a first: all of the talent on stage was local.
"We have always had some people from the Twin Cities, but this is the first time we are self-sufficient," said Ping Yang, a Mayo Clinic physician. "We weren't so confident to be on our own before."
The 22 acts on stage ranged in age from pre-school to adult, adding to the impression of a vibrant cultural community. There was traditional Chinese dance,vocal and music performances, even comedy performed in Chinese language by youngsters. About 500 people attended the event.
Those celebrating the new year of the rabbit represent a Chinese community that continues to grow. "About 10 years ago, we had several hundred," said Bingkun Chen, another Mayo Clinic physician. "It's growing. We don't have exact numbers, but it's between 1,000 and 2,000."
For Chinese people, especially professionals, Rochester is a good place to live and work, Chen said.
"I think a lot of Chinese people like Rochester, especially after they've been here longer," said Chen, who has lived in the city for 11 years.
Chen is typical of these relative newcomers. Born and reared in China, he studied in Germany and Japan before coming to Rochester to work at Mayo Clinic, where he is an assistant professor and supervisor of the Department of Neurology.
"In China, if you have MD or PhD, you work in a big city," Chen said. "My first impression of Rochester was that it's a small town. It's safe and clean. The people are nice. Housing is not as expensive as in California."
"For most of the Chinese people, Rochester is a good town," Yang said, "especially nowadays when China is urbanized, with metropolitan areas. A small town like Rochester is very attractive."
After 14 years in Rochester, Yang said, "It's a great place for my children."
Others have found different reasons to come here and stay. "I have a friend who is a urologist," Yang said. "He said he came here not for money, not for opportunity, but for the fresh air."