Meet a Village Family

 Q&A with Lei and Xuexiao, Parents of Cool Canary Dillon


Where were you each born? Where did you each grow up?
Lei was born and grew up in Shandong, China. Xuexiao was born in Henan, China, and she grew up in Beijing. Xuexiao and Lei met in Beijing and got married there.

When did your family move to the United States? To California?
We moved to Los Angeles in 2001. Xuexiao is a piano accompanist working with many choruses and artists in the Bay area, and she is also a piano teacher. Lei is a hardware engineer working at Nvidia.

Why did you move?
Lei went to the University of Southern California for his postgraduate study in 2001. Xuexiao joined Lei in 2002.

What are some of the major differences in living here versus your original home?
Transportation: More driving in the U.S. and more riding in China.

Restaurants: There is more delicious food in China. Tipping is not a common practice.
Shopping: There are more neighborhood grocery shops in China. In the U.S., there are more big supermarkets. In China, at early night, you may still see most shopping malls and walking streets crowded. Shops tend to close late.

Houses: In China, in cities, people usually live in condos.

What do you like about living here?
In the United States, the environment is well-preserved. People can access the parks and nature within a short distance. There are much fewer traffic issues in the U.S.. For both of us, we found the jobs here that we have passion for.

What do you miss?
Family, friends and food.

How do you keep traditions and culture from home a part of life for your children?
We speak Mandarin at home. We also read Chinese books and listen to Chinese stories using phone apps. We celebrate Chinese holidays and make some traditional food during the holiday time. We take Dillon to China frequently to experience the different cultures. He has loved the Great Wall since the first time he went back.

How did you pick Village?
We did some study before we submitted the application for the open-enrollment of Village. We like the ideas of being small and parent-participation. So we feel very lucky we got in.

What is the school system like in your hometown?
Chinese school system has evolved quite a lot from our time at school. Now it is very similar to the one in the U.S.. It has private and public school systems. Elementary school is grade 1-6. Middle school is grade 7-9. And high school is grade 10-12. The private school system is pretty new (didn’t exist at our time).

The differences are: in China, homework is required starting from grade 1. There are more school days in a year. Students are responsible to clean the classrooms. Students have less freedom to talk, or do their own stuff during class time. Students have recess every 50 mins or so.

What else would you like our community to know or understand about the culture of your childhood and the transition you’ve made?
In our childhood, Chinese New Year was the most important festival and we took a long winter break during that time. We began to celebrate 7 days before the new year, and continued 15 days after, which is the Lantern festival. We ate different sorts of foods, visited friends, relatives, neighbors, and teachers. There are several parades. There are toys and fireworks that you can only get during the New Year.

After coming to the U.S., we celebrate the Chinese new year in a much shortened form. We began to celebrate Christmas: putting up Christmas trees, a gift from Santa. We celebrate Thanksgiving day (we still like roasted chicken better than turkey).

In China, we used chopsticks and don’t eat salad.

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