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Meet Jacqueline Church of Boston Chinatown Tours

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jacqueline Church.

Jacqueline, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Like so many others, I came to Boston for school. And stayed. After practicing law, a couple years, moved over to the corporate world, I discovered and built on and deepened a varied set of skills over the years that all serve me well now. I didn’t have that road map when I started out, I trusted my gut and watched where the market was going and chose to ignore a lot of standard business advice. “Focus on one thing” – meh. Not me.

In addition to Boston Chinatown Tours, I teach private cooking clients, community and adult ed classes, I train restaurants in food allergen safety, and keep a toe in food and travel writing. In the Chinatown tours, I get to bring lots of things I love together and it shows. Imparting a bit of history and culture along with some fun stories and delicious treats, I enjoy meeting guests from all walks of life, from different neighborhoods or countries each feel like they discovered something new and wonderful here in Chinatown.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I wouldn’t know a smooth road if I got dragged across it! My theory is that a little struggle builds character, it’s true for wine and it’s true for people. Challenges bring out the essential character of the grape or the person.

One of the challenges is the constant “freelance hustle” – I literally never have a whole day off. I’m just now able to exhale a bit but there were many days when any kind of strategic planning was taking a back seat to what the next paying gig was. And the next. When I first became self-employed I was a freelance writer, still am, but I saw the writing on the wall so to speak, early in my blogging days when publishers stopped paying for quality content.

Churning copy for clicks doesn’t do it for me, so I began to find other ways to make money doing things I loved.

Now, writing is something I do only infrequently and that’s a shame, I do love it. But I’m very lucky to have other things I also love to do, that are actually things people will pay for. In a way, the arc of this seems natural, as I matured, I accumulated enough clips to be taken seriously (The Boston Globe, The Washington Post) and that was a little springboard to the next thing and so on.

When I developed food allergies as an adult, I felt so cheated! Like a tightrope walker developing vertigo, I had to figure out something else. Learning about food allergies and using corporate training skills to build training I could deliver to restaurants became one line of business.

Food and Culture tours were next, and out of that private cooking clients. So, one of the challenges is staying determined and focused even when things are tight and others are saying your focus should be narrowed. Guess what? All those things that people urged me to drop, they’re paying dividends now.

Boston Chinatown Tours – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I’m thrilled at five-star reviews that all mention how fun my tours are. People love my personal stories, woven into the cultural backdrop and the fables that make the Chinese culture so endlessly fascinating. Growing up in a bi-racial/bi-cultural household, I’m sensitive to and intuitive about cross-cultural learning.

Every guest is unique and yet my job is to deliver an entertaining and cohesive tour that leaves each one feeling like their needs were met, their curiosity sparked, their questions answered.

Cross-cultural understanding is more important than ever. My guests come away with a new appreciation for the hardships and challenges Chinese immigrants overcame. And one of the very best things about Chinese culture is their desire to CELEBRATE. They love to feed you! That’s something everyone enjoys.

I’m proud that people learn things but feel like we’re “just” having a great time. Locals and travelers alike come away full, hearts, minds, bellies.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Growing up, I had the gift of seeing how being unhappy in one’s work can cripple a person. I didn’t see it as such until much later, but it did free me up to follow my own unconventional path. So, my definition of success has never been a dollar amount or a salary. I’ve had that and I can honestly say I was not happier then. Life was easier, but that’s a different thing. Do I miss my little Z3 roadster and crushing big deals? Sure. But a lot of that is ego.

I think creating a business that allows me to support charities I care about, that brings joy to people, that supports the community where I live, these are the things that I truly love. When I can reach a place where I can hustle a bit less that might be nice, too. But, the truth is that’s probably not in my nature.

I think it was TS Eliot who said “success is not where you are, but how far you’ve come from where you started.” By that measure, I’m probably doing okay. But I’m never satisfied so the hustle continues…

Pricing:

  • The Chinatown Experience Tour is a 3 hour tour with tastings, a visit to an herbalist, zip through the grocery store and dim sum. It is by far the most requested tour. $75.
  • Chinese Market Secrets is a one hour tour through the grocery $50.
  • Market Plus is a tour through the market plus three tastings. 2 hours $50.

Contact Info:


Image Credit:

Penny Cherubino (Boston Zest)
Jacqueline Church
Mark Bauman

Getting in touch: BostonVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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