Land of 10,000 books Weblog

May 17, 2011

Minnesota’s Chinese American Community

Filed under: Asian American, Event — pennefesm @ 9:17 am

Bessie Moy, Judith Moy, and Mrs. Hum Gin, 1920s (MHS collections)Guest post by Sherri Gebert-Fuller, author of Chinese in Minnesota

One of the greatest rewards of working on the MHS Press book Chinese in Minnesota was meeting so many wonderful people in the Chinese American community.  But that reward also posed a challenge: how does one write about the history of a community and share the accomplishments of a multitude of individuals in an eighty-page book?  The answer?  It’s impossible.

That is why I was pleased to learn about a new project being funded in part by the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund called “100 Years of Chinese American History in Minnesota from 1911 to 2011: A Story from Within.” This effort is being led by the Minnesota Chinese Cultural Services Center and several other Chinese organizations in the Twin Cities.

The project’s inspiration?  A 2010 Mother’s Day dinner.  Attendees honoring their mothers realized that their parents and members of the Chinese community had some pretty amazing stories that needed to be documented and shared.  It was time to, as project curator Ange Hwang describes it, “pick up the torch.”

Once the idea for the project was planted, Ms. Hwang set out to determine what kind of documentation about Minnesota’s Chinese community already existed. She conducted research at the Minnesota Historical Society and became familiar with the work of Professor Erika Lee, University of Minnesota, and Weiming Lu, a distinguished urban planner and longtime Twin Cities leader.  Ms. Hwang concluded that the project should focus on capturing stories and photos featuring Chinese American history from 1970 to 2010 while emphasizing how events in China, such as the June 4 Tiananmen Massacre, affected the Chinese community in Minnesota.

Fifteen leaders in the Chinese American community have been interviewed for the project. Individuals represented have advanced the study of science and technology at the University of Minnesota and Mayo Clinic, established Chinese language programs throughout the state, and contributed to Minnesota’s rich arts scene.  The “100 Years of Chinese American History” project also includes a photo and audio/video exhibition as well as an educational package for schools and organizations. The exhibit is on display, first, at the St. Paul Landmark Center through June 11 and, second, at the Burnsville Performing Arts Center, June 16 through July 16.

Several events are planned around the project.  To learn more, read this Asian American Press article, visit the Republic of China Centennial Celebration Commission of Minnesota website, or call 651-733-9827.

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