by Daniel Amador
As some of you may know, on the 5th of February the Literature Bridge Class went on a field trip to the Chinese-American Museum in Chinatown as a wrap-up to the book Red Scarf Girl by Ji-Li Jiang. The book is about a girl and her family during the cultural revolution of 1966 who had to endure many struggles and conflicts due to their dead grandfather who had been a landlord. This is important because landlords were despised and hated by communists. We thought it would be fun to see what the life of a Chinese person living in China was like and to learn about the Chinese-American culture.
It started out with us arriving group by group and waiting until everyone had arrived (15 people in total) and then the tour began. The tour guide talked about how lots of people find old stuff in their attics and give them to museums and she explained that many people in the area give some of their old Chinese or Chinese-American attic treasures to the Chinese-American Museum. The first part of the tour started on the first floor. The first floor of the museum was mainly about what you would find in a typical Chinese house, the different parts of the floor were different rooms in a house.
After the guide finished talking about attic treasures, she showed us the next part of the first floor, which was the living room. In it, there were chairs, rugs, and other living room decorations. Then she showed us the kitchen. She talked about different kinds of pots and pans and thermoses and even a gas-powered iron! Once we had finished with the living room of the Chinese home we moved on to another room. The room that she showed us was called “Grandparent’s Room”. In that room there were old antiques like vases and paintings. She explained that these things were mostly attic treasures. Once we had left that room, she showed us the kid’s room where there were toys like dolls and instruments.
Next, she talked about religions of China such as Buddhism and Christianity. Some of the things on display were little religious relics and there was even a little shrine! There were also some signs from past businesses in the area.
Next, a different tour guide took us through the entrance and up some stairs to the second floor, which focused on Chinese-American history. The first thing we did on the 2nd floor was to watch a film where Chinese-Americans talked about why they moved to America and how they were able to have the same culture and customs.
They also talked about what their families’ jobs and occupations were. After that, the guide took us to another part of the 2nd floor where there were two world maps on display. He explained that the reason for so many Chinese people moving to America was because of the California gold rush. He also explained that instead of the Americas being on the west side of an American map, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia are on the west side of a Chinese map, due to so many Chinese moving east to California. Then we were allowed to look at some more displays. He took us to a part of the 2nd floor where he showed us some solidified eggs (fake, of course), jarred fungi and mushrooms, and other herbs and plants. He explained that these were some of the kinds of things Chinese people brought from China to sell and use as medicine.
Following that, he took us to the last part of the 2nd floor where there was a display-counter of a laundry business, a giant colorful paper dragon, and photographs of an orphan, adopted Chinese girls and Chinese Girl Scouts. He talked about a Chinese family and their laundry business, and the Chinese New Year and the New Year parades. He then explained that many Chinese families in China were only allowed to have one child, so many families decided to choose their male child since he would be able to carry on the family name. Many had to disown their females, so they were put to adoption. Then we were able to walk around and look at all the displays again, and that ended our tour.
After the tour, we went back downstairs to the entrance, looked around the gift shop, then left.
We drove to a plaza and walked until we came to a restaurant tucked behind some buildings. We came to a restaurant called Joy Yee, then we sat down, and took our orders. They gave us our food and we ate noodles, soup, wraps, chicken, rice, and more(by the way, those servings are huge)! After we finished eating, we went back to the plaza where we looked around in some stores. Finally, we walked back out of the plaza and drove back home. Our field trip was over, but it was very enlightening, fun (and delicious), I learned a lot. I would recommend something like that to anyone!