HistoricalSite Visit and Report
The visit in the Chinese Historical Society of America in Chinatown,San Francisco was quite insightful, and I was able to acquire a vastrange of information on the Asian American history. Before the visit,I was used to studying the events, concepts and the theories and Inever had the opportunity to encounter the artifacts that give animpression of what occurred during the 19th century as theAsians were moving to the US. Hence, visiting the museum wasenlightening, and I was able to get more concepts about the historyof the Chinese people in San Francisco and the struggle theyunderwent to make their lives in the US more efficient. I exploredthe exhibits carefully and identified every detail that matched withthe course material to make the experience worth it. In fact, themuseum was not crowded, and that provided enough time to study thepieces of art, artifacts and information that touched on theimmigration of the Chinese community to the US. Walking around themuseum reminded me of the early Chinese immigrants that had movedinto the US with the hopes of making a good life. However, the livingconditions turned out to be in contrast to their expectations. Theupstairs exhibits were more insightful and covered issues such as theimmigration and garments that had a lot of information as well. Thedownstairs exhibit that covered the artifacts on the Panama-PacificInternational was also a great site that had a rich history of theChinese immigrants. It also had a number of silent movies, opium densand multiple memorabilia that touched on the Sinophobia.
Chinatown in San Francisco did not have a large population, and thenumber of people would have been around 10,000 at most. Apart fromthat, the number of the Chinese people was higher than any otherethnicities instead. The number of men and women seemed equal to someextent while the area also had a significant population that wascomposed of the Hispanics too. The region also had a large populationof the elderly people showing the improvement of livelihood that hasenhanced the life expectancy. The practices and beliefs of theresidents showed that a few of the older people are the ones that arestill practicing the Chinese culture while the younger generation hasborrowed a lot from the American culture. It showed more aspects ofthe assimilation that had made them resort to the American culture.
In fact, I found the area quite interesting since it had a largepopulation of the Chinese people that were still attached to theirculture. A number of hotels were preparing Chinese food and some ofthe elderly were still dressed in the ancient Chinese garments. Suchgarments showed how they valued their culture even if they arestaying in Diaspora. On the other hand, the museum was also a placethat met my expectations and it had all the artifacts and theinformation that I wanted. In fact, the knowledge I have acquiredwill help me in supplementing my course participation as well.However, the museum had some aspects that were quite disappointing,and I did not have enough time to concentrate on the informationposted on the walls. I wish that they could have switched off thevideo and film running in the background that was audible. In thiscase, every room in the museum had the videos that clearly eveninterfered with the touring session I wish they could have switchedoff the running videos and film as the visitors are touring themuseum to ensure that one understands everything captured.
The first section also presented the evidence on the TranscontinentalRailroad that had a huge number of Chinese people working in the US.In fact, the museum had multiple artifacts that proved how therailroad had the Chinese working tirelessly and being exposed to someharsh conditions and even illnesses. The artifacts and the detailedinformation of the progress of the construction of the railroad werequite enlightening, and I discovered that the Chinese immigrants wereeven ready to work for lower wages instead. The museum also hadenough evidence to reveal how the exclusion of the Asian immigrantsheld at Angel Island felt like. Evidently, the experience wasdevastating, and it shows how they had to undergo discrimination andthe torture simply because they were immigrants (Griffiths, 2012).The images of the Chinese immigrants at the Angel Island and theinformation on their stay at the Island reveal more aspects that arequite efficient in making one understand all the details. Theevidence aligns with the course materials that revealed how theChinese immigrant suffered in the hands of the American officials.The presentation of the evidence was arranged in a chronologicalapproach that gave the visitors enough time to understand all thedetails associated with the particular event as well. The museum wasable to capture some educative aspects of the Asia American historyespecially issues on immigration. The artifacts and informationprovided on the museum clearly matched with the course materials aswell. I was able to have a first experience of the immigration thatstarted during the Gold Rush until the mid 20th century(Wong, 2014). The museum had a wide range of information that talkedabout the Gold Rush and revealed some of the causes that led theChinese community head to the US and their willingness to receive thelow wages. In fact, the low wages were the reason for the tensionbetween the American workers and the Chinese immigrants. Shockingly,they were able to work for a longer period even with the lower wagesthat they received.
I believe that most of theexhibits at the museum matched with the course materials and alignedwith various theories that we had learned in class. For instance, themodel minority theory was evident in the obedient and satisfactorynature of the Chinese immigrants as they were working in the goldmines, railroads as well as the Hawaii Sugarcane plantations. Some ofthe exhibits in the museums also illustrated how the change of thegarments in China and San Francisco transformed over the period. Allin all, it even proved the Anglo-conformity theory that proves howthe immigrants are taught the culture of the majority people in thesociety (Wong, 2014).In this case, the change of garments saw the Chinese people embracingthe American sense of style instead of their own. A look at thecommunity showed the situational perspective that asserts on theethnic identities of the Chinese people being revised and redefinedas time goes by. It also showed the likelihood of the culturechanging anytime in the future as well.
In conclusion, the experience at the Chinese Historical Society ofAmerica was enlightening, and the wide range of information andartifacts were a positive addition to my course materials. Currently,I understand more information associated with the immigration and thefactors that led to the movement as well as the situation at thattime. More specifically, it was quite horrific for the Chinese peoplethat had to work on the railroads and sugarcane plantations wherethey worked under poor conditions and obtained lower wages too.
Griffiths, P. (2012). The strategic fears of the ruling class: theconstruction of Queensland`s Chinese Immigrants Regulation Act of1877. Australian Journal of Politics & History, 58(1),1-19.
Wong, M. G. (2014). The Chinese American family. The New Immigrantand the American Family: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on the NewImmigration, 4, 158.