San Antonio Chinese CommunityInformation about Chinese community organizations, places, and activities in SA
If you're living in the San Antonio area and are interested in Chinese culture, your options for exploring that interest locally seem limited, especially compared to places like Houston or the Bay Area (my home for many years). However, there are in fact a number of cultural organizations, cultural activities, courses of study, and authentic restaurants available to anyone motivated to seek them out. This section of The China Guru is intended to help you simplify that search process and start engaging with Chinese culture right here in San Antonio.
Chinese Community and Cultural Organizations
Chinese Society of San Antonio (CSSA) was formed in 1982. The purpose of this organization is to preserve and promote the unique Chinese culture and traditional values in the local community. By hosting or sponsoring social and cultural activities, CSSA aims to improve communication and understanding among its members, and to gain recognition and respect from other community groups. CSSA is a non-religious, non-political, and non-profit organization.
Posts about events in the San Antonio area can be found on the CSSA Facebook page.
Like CSSA, the San Antonio Chinese Alliance (SACA) organizes several events every year for the Chinese community in San Antonio and seeks to promote its welfare and interests through a variety of endeavors:
The San Antonio Chinese Alliance (SACA, previously known as San Antonio Chinese Scholars and Students Association) is a non-religious, non-political, non-profit, and community-based charitable and educational organization that provides a platform for facilitating integration of Chinese immigrants into the US society, promoting harmony and reducing tension as well as eliminating discrimination in neighborhoods and workplaces where Chinese immigrants live and work and teaching youngsters Chinese language and folk arts. These goals will be achieved by organizing/sponsoring social, cultural, educational, music, sport, recreational, business and other events for both SACA members and San Antonio residents and by offering informal lessons to children who are interested in learning Chinese language and culture.
A list of recent and upcoming events can be found on its homepage.
The Asian American Alliance of San Antonio (AAASA) works to unite and promote not just the SA Chinese-American community, but also other Asian-American communities in San Antonio. One medium through which it has pursued this mission is through its East Meets West event at La Villita. From its website:
The Asian American Alliance of San Antonio (AAASA) is an entity created in 2014 with Asian organizations as its members. As a non-partisan, not for profit organization, its mission is to unite and promote the Asian American community in San Antonio and to help our city be a great place to live, work, and raise families.
Chinese Cultural Activities
The Asian Festival is a large and lively Lunar New Year celebration held annually at the Institute of Texan Cultures downtown. It began as a Chinese New Year celebration and has expanded to include other Asian cultures. See the 2018 entertainment schedule here.
A variety of Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋节) events are held in San Antonio every September or October, depending on the current year's lunar calendar. Check the CSSA and SACA websites for information about their events. Other organizations such as student groups also have their own Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations.
Schools and Courses of Study
High school students who want to apply to a university with a good Chinese language program should consider Trinity University, a small private school with a top-notch Chinese department headed by Classical Chinese scholar Dr. Stephen Field, who has been developing the program over more than 20 years. In addition to a full range of Modern Chinese courses, the program offers a range of interesting classes to supplement students' understanding of the language, including courses on Classical Chinese, Chinese civilization, Chinese philosophy, contemporary Chinese literature, and Chinese art history. Students can major in both the Chinese language and Chinese Studies. The department is well connected to various study abroad programs, and Trinity's multidisciplinary Project for East Asian Studies at Trinity (EAST) has developed its own faculty-led summer program at the prestigious Jiao Tong University in Shanghai.
Here is a video introduction to EAST's Shanghai summer program:
Authentic Chinese Restaurants and Markets
As someone passionate about spicy Sichuan-style food, I've been pleasantly surprised to find a couple of restaurants in San Antonio serving authentic Sichuan (Szechuan) cuisine: Sichuan House, on Wurzbach across from Ingram Park Mall, and Sichuan Garden (also called Szechuan Garden), on NW Military near Lockhill Selma. For anyone craving spicy mala hot pot (麻辣火锅, málà huǒguō), Sichuan Garden does it pretty well. Both restaurants are highly recommended.
Tim's Oriental & Seafood Market (Huebner and Bandera) has, over the last couple of decades, expanded to several times its original size. It carries a wide selection of essential goods.
The best boba tea (tapioca or pearl milk tea, bubble tea, etc.) place I've found in San Antonio so far is Tealicious (1604 and Bandera), though there are quite a few highly rated boba cafes in the area that I haven't tried yet.
Chinese Martial Arts and Sports
Horacio Lopez is a highly accomplished and respected teacher of traditional t'ai chi ch'uan (太极拳, tàijíquán) who has been teaching in San Antonio for decades.
Badminton is a supremely popular sport in China. The SA Birdies play on Thursdays at 8 pm at the Forest Hills Presbyterian Church gymnasium on Bandera Road in Helotes. You can find me there every week, learning as much as I can. They're a friendly and diverse group of experienced players who are very welcoming toward less skilled players (like me).
Chinese Travel Agencies
If you're looking for a local contact to help with travel arrangements to China, I have years of experience working in the China travel industry. I'll be glad to help you plan your trip and put you in touch with appropriate agents or companies to handle the booking for your trip. Contact me by e-mail at brantley[at]thechinaguru[dot]org.