One of the first things Chinese immigrant Sau Fung Lam did upon arriving in Chinatown 24 years ago was go to the grocery store to try to buy an apple.
She approached the grocer and opened her mouth, as if the English words she didn't know would, by some miracle, slip out. They didn't. So she formed a circle with her fingers and thumbs, a gesture the grocer seemed to understand.
She was handed a large onion.
Since Lam moved from East China to Chicago in the early 1990s, Chinatown has flourished, transforming from a partially Chinese community where residents mostly spoke English into one where Lam can easily communicate in Chinese. Most businesses, restaurants and...