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China - Zhongshan to San Francisco

mid 1960s | Doreen Soohoo | Female | 12-19 years old

by Nicki Lapshinoff (summary)

Angel Island immigrant: No

Place of Origin
China - Zhongshan

Place of Settlement
San Francisco

This video is one of a series from the “3 People” project of AIISF and Donaldina Cameron House. To see all the videos, visit our website.


Soohoo, DoreenDoreen Soo-Hoo’s story of perseverance teaches us to keep strong even when life seems impossible. Growing up in Zhongshan, China during the height of China’s Cultural Revolution proved to be turbulent. Doreen’s parents had left for America, and her grandparents took on the duty of raising her. Unfortunately, a conflict between classes resulted in the senseless death of her grandparents. At such a young age, Doreen had witnessed their burned bodies. Despite this, she carried on and sought to reunite with her parents in the U.S.

After several failed attempts to come to America through paper parents, the G.I. Bill was introduced. Doreen’s father suggested she enter the country claiming to be the child of a G.I. Finally at the age of 17, Doreen had come to America.

Adjusting to a different culture and lifestyle was challenging. Immediately she began to work. Eventually she met her husband, married him, and stayed out of the workforce for 11 years. When the time came for her to work again, she began working for United Airlines, organizing and stocking flight equipment. Even after years of living in the US and becoming a citizen, Doreen still had to face extreme prejudice in the workplace being a woman and the only Chinese worker. Her amazing resilience allowed her to stand up to her coworkers and keep herself safe.

Doreen’s attitude is amazingly positive and strong, and can give us the encouragement we sometimes need to go through our own struggles in life.

Camera – Matthew Chen, Leanna Fong, Andrew Huang, Ken Huang, and Samantha Wong
Assistant Camera – Justin Wong
Sound – Jared Lue



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