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Minority stories V: Chinese minorities in Brussels – interviewing Chan Chi How

Britta (Estonia), Sanni (Finland) and Yolanda (Spain) went to Anderlecht for their interview:

Our assignment to study chinese minorities in Brussels, led us to the house of Chan Chi How, situated in Anderlecht. Mr. How is a 42 year old IT specialist, who was born in Brussels and belongs to the second generation of Chinese immigrants. His grandfather arrived to Brussels before the Second World War, followed by his parent 15 years later. Together they opened a restaurant business, hoping to improve their financial situation. The hard work paid off and their lifequality improved alot, but they still missed the chinese culture which had negative effects on their intergration to the Belgian society.

Chan Chi was born 1968 and has spent all of his life in Brussels, like every other Belgian. He sees himself as half chinese, half belgian and describes his childhood as pretty normal. In the multicultural city of Brussels he doesn’t feel discriminated because of his chinese background and intergrating to the belgian culture was never a problem for him. The chinese culture is still very important for him and an essential part of his everyday life and wants to keep his chinese heritage alive in his family.

He describes the differences between the first- and the second generation as very big. For his parents it was more important to work hard and make money, when again Chan Chi appreciates to spend a lot of time with his family and just enjoy life. His parents also never learnt French and it was therefore much harder for them to get a new social life in Brussels. Their connection to China and the chinese culture always stayed strong and they never considered Brussels as their hometown. Today his parents have given up their business and are retired and are thinking about returning back to China.

Chan Chi has little connection to China and hasn’t any intention in giving up his life and home in Brussels. Married to a cambodian woman, he thinks it’s good for his children living in a mixed culture. Eventhough he wants them to grow up as Belgians, he still doesn’t want his them to forget their chinese background.