By Maya Chin
For the last two months I have been researching the history of San Francisco Chinatown. I felt deeply connected to this topic because of my great grandfather. He was considered a pioneer, a leader, and a advocate for Chinese rights. He grew up in China and eventually moved to New York Chinatown during the early 1900s.
Even though my great grandfather died before I was born, the research was very meaningful to me because of my family’s deep connection to Chinatown. My grandmother was born and raised there. After college, my father lived there for years and was a community historian and organizer. Before I began my research I didn’t know much about Chinatown or my great grandfather. I only knew a little bit about the Chinese in America because of history class in school. That wasn’t enough for me. I wanted learn more about my ancestors and their stories.
Whenever my family goes on vacation, we always visit the Chinatown in that city. Besides Oakland and San Francisco Chinatown, I’ve been to New York Chinatown, Honolulu Chinatown, and Vancouver Chinatown. I enjoy trying out the different restaurants from different regions of China. Each Chinatown is unique, with its own personality and culture. I will now appreciate these community because I have a better understanding of these communities.
The stories of how Chinese in America overcame racism by fighting for their rights has inspired me to fight for what I believe in and never give up. My great grandfather’s story has taught be active in my community.
In order to create this website I researched many books and websites, and conducted several interviews. I videotaped a walking tour of Chinatown. Because I felt so connected to this topic, doing all the research and writing actually taught me a lot. The fact that I’ve learned so much from this whole experience really makes the whole thing worthwhile.