Gar Chiang has held notable jobs around the world and has lived in New York City, Los Angeles, Hawaii and China, but in the end, only one place felt like home: Mission Hill. Chiang moved back to the area in 2002 from overseas.
“I missed America. I missed Mission Hill. This is my home,” he said.
Chiang currently works as a court interpreter in the state and federal courts for both criminal and civil trials. He began part-time 10 years ago before eventually taking on full-time duties. He is certified in the Cantonese and Mandarin dialects of Chinese. Chiang also recently graduated from the Massachusetts School of Law.
“I did it for 30 years for free,” Chiang joked about informally interpreting for people over the years.
He has worked a variety of cases, including rape and involuntary commitment. Some of the more famous criminal cases have been the involuntary manslaughter convictions of two landlords in a Quincy apartment fire, the arraignment of a women charged with killing her son with a hibachi grill, and a mother accused of strangling her 9-year-old daughter to death.
“Every day is different,” said Chiang.
Chiang first moved to Mission Hill from Hong Kong when he was 13 years old. Growing up on S. Huntington Avenue, Chiang developed close friendships with a group of Irish boys and experienced their culture. They would play ball together, go hiking, diving and swimming.
“They’re my best friends,” he said. “For a Chinese kid to be exposed to that was wonderful.”
He added, “Mission Hill is an important part of my past.”
Chiang attended English High School while it was located at 77 Avenue Louis Pasteur and he graduated from there about 35 years ago. He went to the University of Massachusetts Boston, acquiring a degree in economics, before heading to Columbia University in 1983.
“That was intimidating for a public school kid in NYC,” said Chiang. “I had to work hard.”
While at Columbia, Chiang worked for the U.S. China Cultural Exchange Foundation marketing U.S. television in China, including sitcoms and documentaries. After graduating with a master’s in fine arts, Chiang said he worked at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, managing the entertainment operations.
But the art venues were small, and Chiang wanted to work with a larger audience. He found that opportunity when he became the general manager of Hong Kong Stadium in 1997.
Chiang managed the stadium for two years before moving back into television. This time, he was the China chief for Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, helping the company launch operations in China.
After meeting his wife overseas, Chiang moved back to the U.S. The pair now has “two beautiful children,” said Chiang and they live at the Charlesbank Cooperative. He is on the board there, as well as on Mission Hill Main Streets, where Director Richard Rouse says Chiang is very active.
“He’s a positive, upbeat guy,” said Rouse. “I wish every one was as caring.”