Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation

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IMMIGRANT VOICES

 

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Gee, Stanley and Amy : The American Dream by Judge Delbert Gee
Year of Arrival 1938

Taken from a speech given by the Honorable Delbert C. Gee during the ceremonial administration of his oath of office as Judge of the Superior Court of California, County of Alameda, in January 2003 at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center.

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Choi, Kyung Sik : A Night at the Immigration Station by Grant Din
Year of Arrival 1925

One hundred years after the Immigration Station opened, we are still uncovering bits and pieces of the Angel Island story.  The following poem, “A Night at the Immigration Station” by Choi Kyung Sik was found by researchers Charles Egan, a professor at San Francisco State University, and his assistant Jikyung Hwang as they went through back issues of the San Francisco-based Shinhan Minbo newspaper. Mr. Choi’s poem was published on April 25, 1925, and this English translation is by Jikyung Hwang and Charles Egan.

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Lum, Fong Shee : Sowing Strength in a Strange Land: The Life of Lum Fong Shee by Carla Koop
Year of Arrival 1912

The following is a biography of my grandmother, Lum Fong Shee, who travelled from a village in southern China to the United States as a new bride in an arranged marriage. She was 21 years of age when she left, and spent the remainder of her 78 years in California. I call my grandmother’s story “Sowing Strength in a Strange Land” because of the personal strength she drew upon, living as an illiterate, non-English speaking woman in a foreign culture and land. Despite her challenges, she raised a large family and achieved business success.

This narrative is based on a series of interviews I conducted with my grandmother between 1990 and 1996. Because my grandmother spoke only Chinese and I speak none, my mother, Frances Koop, acted as translator and full participant in the interviews. Eventually I was able to complete a written oral history that gave my grandmother's experience a more permanent voice. I am grateful to have this opportunity to share her experience as part of the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation's “Immigrant Voices” project.

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Lee, Don Yee Fung : My Journey from China to America by William Wong
Year of Arrival 1939

Adapted from an interview conducted by William Wong, edited by Jordan Yee and Eddie Wong

Don Yee Fung Lee looks back at the hardships and trials of his life with great candor and feeling.  From very harsh beginnings, he forged a life that is rich with accomplishments on the professional and personal level.

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Jiu, How : Sharing the Angel Island Immigration Experience of How Jiu by Lena and Polly Fong
Year of Arrival 1928

How Jiu’s journey to America was full of drama and daring.  Daughter Lena Fong and granddaughter Polly Fong share this account of a remarkable woman’s life in Oakland Chinatown during the tough Depression through the post World War II years.

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Chen, Joan : Actress, Director, and Immigrant by William Wong
Year of Arrival 1981

Internationally acclaimed actress/director Joan Chen (Chen Gong) immigrated to the U.S. at age 19 in 1981.  In this special article for AIISF, Joan Chen tells journalist William Wong about her years as a student in the U.S. and her early career as a Hollywood actress before her breakthrough in the Academy-award winning film, The Last Emperor.

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Allende, Isabel : The Unexpected Immigrant by William Wong
Year of Arrival 1987

Author of best-selling books such as The House of Spirits, Isabel Allende recounts the circumstances that led to her unexpected settlement in northern California and her eventual U.S. citizenship.  Sprinkled liberally with amusing observations, Allende’s discussion with journalist William Wong also delves into the tragic circumstances of her daughter Paula’s illness and death.  Allende honors her daughter’s memory through a foundation dedicated to needy immigrants.

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Wong, Poy (James) : Life in America (Nov 11, 1901 – Jan 4, 1990) by Linda Lum
Year of Arrival 1916

Wong Poy began his life in America with three months of interrogations, but he was finally landed in March 1916.  After working and studying in San Francisco, he moved to Augusta, GA where he spent many years in the grocery business.  He finally settled in Oakland, CA.

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Leong, Quong : From Immigrant to Flower Grower by Helen Leong
Year of Arrival 1915

A life of hard work as a gardener in San Francisco leads Leong Quong to become a prize-winning flower grower in Milpitas, California.

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Lim, Fook Keung : Biography (January 3, 1909 – February 20, 1986) by Hazel Lim Hoshiko
Year of Arrival 1923

Daughter Hazel Lim shares the wide arc of her father’s life, who was detained on Angel Island at age 15, worked in San Francisco Chinatown restaurants in his youth, served in the Army-Air Force in World War II, and retired in San Gabriel as a grocery store owner.

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Kitano, Kou : Memories of Angel Island by Chizu Iiyama
Year of Arrival 1914

Mrs. Kou Kitano arrived on Angel Island in 1914 and waited for her husband, who she had only seen in a photograph. Thus, begins the journey of a Japanese picture bride, as told by her daughter, Chizu Iiyama.

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Fong, Benjamin : My Life by Benjamin Fong
Year of Arrival 1946

Veteran Antioch elementary school teacher, Benjamin Fong, recounts his arrival on Angel Island at age 5, his settlement in Oakland Chinatown, his military service and educational career.

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Moy, Damon : My Father, Damon Moy by Diane Lo
Year of Arrival 1940

A longtime resident in Sacramento,CA, Mr. Damon Moy immigrated to the U.S. in 1940 and was detained on Angel Island for three months.  After a long career in the food service industry, he and his wife Helen retired in Honolulu where their children now reside.

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