By Jocelyn Moore
Northwestern Asian Weekly
While speed dating may not be at the top of your list of date ideas, it may be a trending way to meet new people soon, at least at your local libraries.
The Beacon Hill Branch of Seattle Public Library hosted its first speed dating event on August 29, 2015, drawing a younger crowd to the library. The event was created in the celebration of the recent Chinese Valentine’s Day with millennial-aged singles as the target audience.
“It is a great opportunity to meet people,” said library associate Di Zhang. “This allows people to meet each other, make connections, maybe they find a friend. That is what this is all about.”
“Each man has 3 minutes to get to know the girl,” Zhang said. “After they get through the speed dating rounds, they can mingle, follow up with each other, or talk to us about the event during the social hours.”
Jack Chen, 35, who attended speed dating the first time said he just intended to make friends at the event.
Chen felt that people in his generation are either busy working or getting their education, which sometimes leaves very little time to get to meet new people.
On the other hand, Sam Kwan, 29, whose cousin works at the Seattle Public Library, felt there are plenty of opportunities to make new friends.
“They gotta go to more parties,” Kwan said. “I just come out and have fun.”
Librarian Nonie Xue said the speed dating event turned out to be a success with great participants. Warren Chin, who led the event planning was instrumental in making the program happen.
“I actually didn’t know much about speed dating myself,” Xue said. “It was sort of a new concept to me and probably a lot of the Chinese people.”
“Some of them seemed a bit shy but they were all excited to try something new,” Xue said. “I think nowadays young people are doing more online dating but I think meeting someone new in person still interests people. Plus speed dating allows you to have multiple dates at one event and is less awkward than a blind date.”
Last year for Chinese Valentine’s Day, the Central Library did a dating event that involved more than 100 attendees with more group activities. Xue received some feedback that suggested more one-on-one conversation opportunities, which inspired the speed dating idea for this year’s theme.
“Several participants told me they loved the speed dating format and felt it was a more efficient way to get to know each other,” Xue said.
Xue said that serving the Chinese-speaking community is one of her top priorities as the Chinese language librarian.
“We offer free ESL classes and conversation group for English learners and we’ve also been working with Chinese information and service center to present life-skill workshops to help the new immigrants to get to know the American society, financial and healthcare systems,” said Xue who works mostly with Chinese seniors.
She feels that language is a barrier for a lot of seniors as they did not have the chance to learn English when they were younger. She also provides regular instruction and cultural programs for the Chinese-speaking community such as the weekly Chinese computer class and tech-help sessions.
“I feel job searching is also an area where some of the younger Chinese new immigrants need help, such as how to write a resume, apply for a job, and where to find job opportunities,” Xue said.
Currently, Seattle Public Library does not have set-in-motion plans for future speed dating events but it is definitely one of the ideas to bring people to the local libraries.
“We do wanna have different audiences in the future, maybe senior, same-sex,” Zhang said. “But we are still in the testing phase.”
The next upcoming event in celebration of the Chinese culture is mid-autumn moon festival concert con September 13th at the Central Library. For more information, visit spl.org. (end)