I am Qingci, an oncoming senior at Roosevelt High School. I like doing photography, play badminton and I enjoy this trip!
The U.S. Forest Service and the Wing Luke Museum sponsored a seven-day Chinese Heritage Tour which explored the Asian American contributions in establishing the American West. It was a mind-changing process for many of the tour participants. Each one of us had a personal story and/or a reason why we are interested in Asian American history. For me, the reason could be that this is where my family and I came from. Or it could be what I did — being a part of the youth intern project and trying to find out more about Asian American history in a way we are interested in and write about it. I, as one of the five Heritage Tour interns, tried to discover the personal stories we could share and the changing ideas about Asian American history. From the limited knowledge of the Chinese gold miners I had before the tour I experienced the changing ideas of how it connects or affects us today.
“I didn’t want to learn about the Asian American’s history when I was a youth,” said Ruby Luke, tour participant and sister of Wing Luke, for whom the museum is named after. She stood at the rock wall built by mostly 13 year-old Chinese gold miners. “But now, I want to learn about what I never knew, and more about family history.”
I’m a Toishanese teenager, so when I saw Tony, an American-brn Chinese tour participant, with a shirt that said: “Toishanese Man”(台山佬)”, it caught my attention. I interviewed him to find out the story behind the shirt.
“I heard a song named “Cantonese Boy” which they mentioned ‘You’re not my Toishanese boy,'” said Tony. ” I thought, I am not a boy anymore, so I changed the word ‘boy’ into ‘man’ and designed this ‘Toishanese Man’ (台山佬) shirt.”
The simple but solemn Chinese cemetery ceremony we did in memory of the Chinese gold mining pioneers drew everyone’s heart. It was not only meaningful to the tour group in a way of honoring Chinese pioneers but also meaningful to the local place and the Asian American history by showing our values.
We influenced local people by telling them what and why we did the Chinese ceremony. A grandmother who passed by looked toward the wooden information board and explained the Baker City Chinese history to her grandchildren during the ceremony.
I couldn’t use words to describe how glad I am for going on this tour. I learned more than what the speakers taught and what those artifacts showed me. I learned from rich stories shared by the people I went on the tour with and the people I met locally. If you care about Asian American history, you can also be the pioneer to discover it!