From the Queens Chronicle:
In Flushing this summer, it’s the children who are leading the way when it comes to increasing the number of English-language signage in downtown stores.
For years, non-Asian shoppers in Flushing have complained about the lack of English signs with names and prices of fruits and vegetables and other commodities sold on the bustling thoroughfares around Main Street. The city’s Department of Consumer Affairs has made forays into the community, issuing citations for the no-English signs, but the practice has continued and there are just too many stores to keep up with, according to the agency.
Enter Lois Lee, director of the Chinese American Planning Council School Aged Day Care Center at PS 20. With a large contingent of youngsters from elementary school age through high school, she has organized a five-week community service project to fix the signs.
Keeping English off signs merchandise, “discriminates against those who can’t read Chinese, like me,” Lee said. “I can speak in Chinese but I never learned the letters.”
Last week, groups of summer campers from Lee’s program visited merchants along Main Street explaining that they would make bilingual signs if the store owners agreed to post them. According to Lee, some said they would be happy to while others gave a decided no.
There was a wide variety of shops canvassed, including restaurants, fruit stores, herbal shops and pharmacies.
Youngsters spent the rest of the week painstakingly making 200 signs with Chinese symbols and the English translation. On Friday, they revisited the sites and helped erect the new signs.
Lisa, the store manager at New A & N Food Market at 41-79 Main St., was happy to help the campers match the new signs with the fruit. Youngsters held up their placards for peaches, dragon fruit, plums, melons and more.
Many of the kids said the project was fun and they learned that it was a city law that all signs must include English. They will return to the stores in five weeks to see how their initiative worked out.
Lee promised this week to do a similar undertaking with Korean merchants along Union Street. She was still looking for adult helpers who spoke Korean to help write the signs.
(P.S. Toby can't figure out what kind of fruit she is.)