When not enjoying the natural beauty of their adopted hometown, Pei Jen and Neil Hickey love exposing their kids to other cultures by teaching them Chinese and hosting exchange students.
By Caren Oppenheim
Locals Love: Buckley's Tavern, which was built in 1817 as a private home, hosts its "Famous Pajama Brunch" on Sundays—dress in p.j.'s and your meal is half price.
Our Wilmington Family: Pei Jen; Ryan, 8; Neil; and Erin, 6.
I was born and raised in Taiwan and met Neil through an international student internship program. Over time we grew close through many common interests and our careers in technology. Although I hadn't planned on staying in America, we got married and first settled in California for job opportunities, then lived with his parents on Long Island, New York. We visited Neil's brother and his family in Wilmington about six years ago and decided we loved what this small city offered—countless outdoor activities and its proximity to major cities.
One of our preferred spots around town is Bellevue State Park, which is about a 10-minute drive from our house and has a large track perfect for bike rides, tennis courts (we started taking family lessons last year) and a playground. The beautiful location has free nighttime concerts in the summer. Everyone brings blankets, lawn chairs and food. Last year we heard great marching bands, country singers and jazz groups.
Neil travels for work so we're always trying to make the most of the weekends by planning as many fun outings as possible. An ideal day includes biking the Riverfront Wilmington, which follows the Christina River and has shops, restaurants, a children's museum and more. We'll stop along the way at Molly's, an old-fashioned ice cream shop that has pictures of Hollywood stars on the wall. Erin always orders cookies and cream and Ryan goes for the mint chocolate chip. Then we visit the DuPont Environmental Education Center, which has interactive exhibits that let you get close to the native animals and plants—the butterflies are a family favorite.
Traveling and learning about other customs is something that's very important to Neil and me—it's how we met! I started a company called Chinese Boogie with a friend, which educates young people about China and teaches them the language too. We'll also be hosting a student from Spain for the second summer in a row. It's a great way to introduce our children to other cultures—and we love showing off our hometown!
Originally published in the August 2011 issue of Family Circle magazine.