I recently had the honor of presenting a Certificate of Recognition to the Irvine Chinese School and the South Coast Chinese Cultural Association on behalf of the City of Irvine on the occasion of the grand opening of the powerful new photographic exhibit “Immigrants Building America,” a traveling exhibit from the American Institute in Taiwan that features stories and photos of how immigrants from Taiwan and China have contributed to the United States and tells the “moving and inspiring stories of people journeying to a new country, struggling to establish themselves, and contributing their intelligence and hard work to create the vibrant America that we know today.”
The exhibit covers the time period from the mid-19th Century – when consecutive years of drought in China coupled with the discovery of gold in California led thousands of Chinese workers to travel across the oceans to work in the gold mines, and then in the construction of the railroads, in the American West – to the years of discrimination, hardship, and expulsion under the Chinese Exclusion Act from the 1880s to the early 1940s – to the present, when Chinese Americans are celebrated for their accomplishments and contributions across numerous fields, including journalism, sports, politics, medicine, music, film, architecture, and science.
Among the Chinese Americans featured in the exhibit are Samuel C. C. Ting (Nobel Prize in Physics, 1976), Steve Chu (Nobel Prize in Physics, 1997), Roger Yonchien Tsien (Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 2008), Anna May Wong (first Chinese American movie star and outspoken advocate for Chinese American causes), I. M. Pei (Chinese American architect often called the master of modern architecture), Ang Lee (Academy Award, Best Director, 2005 and 2012), Elaine L. Chao (U.S. Secretary of Labor, 2001-2009), Judy Chu (b. 1953, first Chinese American woman ever elected to the U.S. Congress), Yo Yo Ma (b. 1955, Grammy Award winning cellist), Maya Lin (b. 1959, designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.), Michelle Kwan (b. 1980, Olympic and World Champion figure skater), Jason Wu (b. 1982, fashion designer), and Jeremy Lin (b. 1988, outstanding college and NBA basketball star).
I also had the pleasure of discussing the exhibit – and the crucial role that cultural diversity and immigrant communities have played in the success of Irvine – with the principal of the Irvine Chinese School, Yulan Chung, and the president of the Irvine Chinese School’s Board of Directors, Albert Tseng. The Irvine Chinese School is truly an Irvine treasure. Founded in 1976, the mission of the Irvine Chinese School is to promote Chinese language learning, preserve Chinese heritage, enhance the understanding of the values of Chinese culture, and to advocate for Cultural diversity in America. Located in the beautiful new South Coast Chinese Cultural Center in Irvine, the Irvine Chinese School is largest Chinese school in Southern California, with more than a thousand students enrolled in classes ranging from traditional Chinese phonetics, writing, grammar and conversation, to Chinese customs, folklore, painting, calligraphy, performing arts and other aspect of Chinese culture.
Visit “Immigrants Building America” and experience the struggles and triumphs of Chinese immigrants in America and learn about the many contributions of Chinese Americans to building the ongoing and still-unfolding American Dream. “Immigrants Building America” speaks to every immigrant community and every American.
What: “Immigrants Building America” – Traveling exhibit featuring stories and photos of how immigrants from Taiwan and China have contributed to the growth of the United States.
Where: Irvine Chinese School at South Coast Chinese Cultural Center, 9 Truman, Irvine CA
When: November 2 though December 30, 2013
More information: (949) 559-6868
Click here for an NTDTV.com news report (in Chinese) about the exhibit and the opening ceremonies.