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Chinese lessons at Chicago Public Library draw diverse crowd

Through the floor-to-ceiling windows in a contemporary building near the Cermak-Chinatown L train station on Monday afternoons, one can see more than a dozen people from different walks of life, trying to have conversations together.

Chicago’s new public library branch in Chinatown was remodeled and opened last August. Standing amid Chinese restaurants and residential apartments, this glass-and-steel structure has become a community center for Chinese-Americans and a language learning hot spot for Chicagoans of all ethnicities.

Si Chen, library manager at the Chinatown branch, started to teach Chinese beginner lessons four months after the library opened, thinking it would be good for children.

“There are a lot of kids go to Chinese schools to learn and practice Chinese, and I thought the lessons here would be a supplement to that,” Chen said.

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