Chinese Senior Center connects people to home

PHOENIX – Nancy Peng finds joy at the Chinese Senior Center.

Here, she meets people who have become family.

Here, she may line dance or make crafts.

Here, she and others celebrate their Asian heritage and their new home in Arizona. They learn English and, perhaps, even work to become U.S. citizens.

“As soon as I walk in this door, it is full of the joy,” Peng said. “People laughing, we make jokes, we share the food, we share everything.”

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The center opened more than three decades ago to cater to immigrants and others. Information about it is usually spread by word of mouth.

Maggie Eng, who supervises the center, said English classes are offered to help some members adjust more easily to a new country.

“Their English is kind of limited,” Eng said. “Some of them don’t even speak English at all. That’s the reason we emphasize them learning English in order to mingle with other people.”

The center also hosts class where immigrants can study to become American citizens.

Tachung Voo, who has been a member for quite some time, helps newcomers as a “senior companion.” She enjoys the role.

Besides lessons in English and citizenship, members spend time talking, sharing meals and having fun, such as singing and dancing.

“Every morning around nine o’clock we have a line dance,” Eng said.

The center also hosts Chinese and American festivals, including an Autumn Moon Festival next week, on Sept. 15.