Chinatown vs. Chinese Identity

By Jia Pu——second post

What is your impression of Chinatown? Before coming to Montreal, my understanding of Chinatown all came from online videos and TV programs about it. For me, Chinatown should be a place filled with traditional Chinese features, like the honorific archway, red lanterns and, of course, Chinese characters, which can help to maintain and propel Chinese identity of the immigrants and their offsprings. Meanwhile, as a tourist attraction, Chinatown can provide tourists from all over the world with an experience of Chinese culture. However, what I saw in Chinatown here completely changed my impression of it. I made the decision to visit Chinatown in Montreal the second day after arriving because I thought it would be a good way to relieve me from my homesickness since I could enjoy Chinese food and talk to people  in Chinese instead of French. But what I saw there was almost nothing like what I had imagined before. To my disappointment, there were just a few restaurants and stores operated by Chinese immigrants, which covered quite a small area and looked shabby. Besides, I noticed that even Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese  restaurants could be found in Chinatown, making me more confused about the purpose of building it in the first place. Therefore, I read several articles concerning Chinatown and tried to find the answer.

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