Cafeteria worker also mother from Guangdong

Humans of Central: Joyce Wu


Adeline Tse

Several students at Central communicate with cashier Joyce Wu in Cantonese during the day.

Adeline Tse, Staff Artist

Editor’s note: Portions of this interview were translated from Cantonese.

“[I moved here because] education and the environment feels safe. Because this is a good district for the kids.

I used to work as a cashier. Sometimes I need to put stuff in the ice box or cooler. Sometimes the students and I like to chit-chat [about] how they are able to eat so much! The students haven’t gone out and started yet, which you need to be more caring with.

There’s a couple students that speak Cantonese and talk with you and say hi. I learned Cantonese in Guangdong. [It’s] close to Hong Kong. Different systems have different cashiers, so working here and with other companies has different protocols. You don’t want the students to pile up and wait in a long line so you have to be fast paced so they don’t have to wait as long. When they come with their food, before they even press in your student ID, we already have to memorize what’s in your tray. And when your ID has popped up, we have to see if your balance has enough money and we have to react fast. And if you have a little money left, we see what things you can buy with it. 

My son is in high school. Since he was born and grew up here, he will never fully understand [how to speak Cantonese]. When it comes to high school, you have to wait and let him learn himself because he has to be independent. So in school, he decides himself, what homework he does, what courses to choose. In this time from now on, you need to give him something and let him do things himself. If there are no calls or emails from the teachers, then it’s ok.”