One of the things that I didn’t get to do last time I was in San Francisco (and Part 2) was visit Chinatown. I took a class in college on Asian American art which I found very interesting and had always wanted to see the community in person. For the class, I interviewed Flo Oy Wong (the transcript of which you can find here) who talked about her parents’ immigration to the states and her life growing up the Bay area. I found her story to be very interesting and her art even more so.
San Francisco’s Chinatown is the largest Chinese community outside of Asia. It is also the oldest Chinese community in North America and therefore quite significant historically (Chicago apparently being the second oldest, as Chinese fled California in the late 1800s as a result of the Anti-Chinese movement). I haven’t been to Chicago’s Chinatown in quite a while, so maybe it’s time to visit to compare :) Being an immigrant myself, I love to think about how these communities form and how much of their culture they are able to retain despite being surrounded by the American culture (for example, the New Year’s parade was sponsored by Southwest Airlines. I knew because there were advertisements EVERYWHERE…). I see that within my own Polish community in Chicago as well. Traditions are morphed and new ones created. It’s all very fascinating to me :) I loved walking through and I loved how drastically different it felt compared to the rest of San Francisco.