Shoppers ask a good luck charms vendor about her merchandise in Oakland Chinatown on Saturday. Photo by Katherine Wei.

It was a rainy week, and people were itching to head outdoors by the time Saturday rolled around. Many found themselves drawn to the hubbub at the center of Oakland Chinatown, where the annual Lunar New Year Bazaar was held. Offered two weeks shy of Chinese New Year, the street fair is meant to usher in the popular holiday as Chinese American families began their preparations.

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classroom

At Yu Ming School in Oakland’s Chinatown on a recent Thursday morning, a teacher writes on the board in slow lettering, and an eager bunch of students slowly sounds out the words in a collective chirp. Unlike most other kindergarten classrooms across the country, though, the writing isn’t in English, or even in Spanish. It’s in Chinese characters.

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