2017 Roots Exhibit & Presentation Preview

The 2017 cohort will be opening their exhibit at International Hotel Manilatown Center on February 10. They will also be presenting at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center on March 3. Join us and learn about their experiences in the Pearl River Delta region in Guangdong, China.

Enjoy the preview below.

 

 

Meet the 2017 Interns for Roots: Him Mark Lai Family History Project!

Roots 2017 Summer Interns consists of 11 people from the Bay Area, Boston, and Vancouver. They will visit many areas of the Pearl River Delta in Guangdong 廣東省, China, including Kaiping 開平, Taishan 台山, Doumen 斗門, Zhongshan 中山, Foshan 佛山, Zhaoqing 肇慶, Nanhai 南海, Shunde 順德, Panyu 番禺, Dongguan 東莞 and Huizhou 惠州. They depart for their journey on July 4, 2017!

At the Eat.Root.Love. Gala in April 2017.

At the Eat.Root.Love. Gala in April 2017.


olly.jpg

Oliver Goodman 郭富城 

San Francisco, CA

Sign (Chinese Zodiac and Astrological):  Dog, Scorpio

What do you do for fun?  I enjoy cooking, playing guitar, chess, fly fishing, going to concerts and anything related to Bay Area sports teams.

How did you hear about Roots?  I first heard about Roots from my mom, who was a member of the Roots Plus group a few years ago. She had such an incredible trip learning about our family background and visiting her village that I knew that I had to experience the journey for myself.

What would you like to accomplish from this Roots experience?  During the Roots experience, I seek to strengthen my connection to my Chinese heritage and culture. Ultimately, I hope to not only get a better sense of self-identity as a Chinese-American but to also provide my family members with a more tangible connection and fulfilling answers surrounding our family history. 

What are your expectations for the trip?  I have many expectations about the Roots trip, which will also be my first time in China. Firstly, I expect to be challenged and uncomfortable as a first-time visitor. Nevertheless, I also expect to learn an incredible amount, whether it be about the Chinese language, history, or culture. I know I will be surrounded by like-minded people who are just as eager as me to learn about their family roots, so I can't wait for this trip of a lifetime!


Gabriela Koc-Spadaro 郭文仙

Vancouver, British Columbia

Sign (Chinese Zodiac and Astrological)Monkey, Cancer

What do you do for fun?  I enjoy playing basketball, keeping up with fashion trends, painting, and photography. I pretty much like staying active and creative. 

How did you hear about Roots?  Through my aunt Nancy Koc, who lives in San Francisco and was a part of Roots Plus.  

What would you like to accomplish from this Roots experience?  I would like to understand my own culture more. I think visiting the village where my grandfather and grandmother lived is super cool. I can see the different way of life they lived. 

What are your expectations for the trip?  To have a fun adventure and to absorb as much culture, food, knowledge, sights, and a little shopping as I can.


Julia.Kwong_BioPic.JPG

Julia Kwong 鄺愛婷

San Francisco, CA

Sign (Chinese Zodiac and Astrological)Monkey, Sagittarius

What do you do for fun?  I enjoy exploring areas of fitness, fashion, and food. On my free time, I like catching up with friends and planning for the next adventure!

How did you hear about Roots? I heard about Roots from Scott Leung and then attended 2016’s Roots presentation/exhibit.

What would you like to accomplish from this Roots experience?  As a first-generation Chinese American, I’d like to see the environment and conditions my parents grew up in and return with a stronger sense of how to provide a better life for them.

What are your expectations for the trip?  I’m going on this trip with an open mind but hope to be fully immersed in the culture of China.


Jessica Hua Lam 林鸞文

Oakland, CA

Sign (Chinese Zodiac and Astrological):  Rooster, Cancer

How did you hear about Roots?  I heard about Roots from Roots alumni: Danielle Lam, Frank Lee, and Benson Tran.

What do you do for fun?  I enjoy reading, volunteering, learning and trying new things, hiking, going to the beach, hanging out with my fur babies Amigo (cat) and Hima (dog), going to concerts, traveling, and of course eating.

What would you like to accomplish from this Roots experience?  I hope to help preserve my family's history and better understand who I am through this search of my ancestral village. I want to learn about the lives of my ancestors and the struggles they endured throughout their journeys that have made it possible for me to be here today. I look forward to reflecting on my Roots experience and sharing the many things I learn with my friends and family. 

What are your expectations for the trip?  I am unsure what to expect, but I am prepared to be constantly humbled during this trip. 


Scott.jpg

Scott Leung 梁沛榮

San Francisco, CA

Sign (Chinese Zodiac and Astrological):  Rooster, Cancer

What do you do for fun?  Fitness, Photography, Reading, Socializing with friends.

How did you hear about Roots?  I learned about Roots through my cousins Jonny Lam (2012) and Danielle Lam (2006).

What would you like to accomplish from this Roots experience?  Through Roots I hope to find a closer sense of identity, build lifelong relationships, and learn what it means to be Chinese.

What are your expectations for the trip?   I expect China go be extremely hot in July! I do not have any expectations for this trip, only hopes. I’m going into this experience with an open-mind.


Rebekah (right) with her sister Angelica

Rebekah (right) with her sister Angelica

Rebekah Sze-Tung Olstad 敖思肜

Boulder, CO

Sign (Chinese Zodiac and Astrological):  Snake, Virgo

How did you hear about Roots?  Mostly through chance and the internet! I did find out later that one of my co-workers is a Roots alumni.

What do you do for fun?  Hiking, dancing, and studying herbalism.

What would you like to accomplish from this Roots experience?  I'm excited to connect to my family's history and to spend time on the land my family called home for so many generations. As an environmentalist, I'm especially interested in learning about our traditional water sources and the work being done now by communities to protect clean water, clean air, and the land for all.

What are your expectations for the trip?  I expect the trip will be meaningful, fun, challenging, and that our cohort will have a great time supporting one another on these important journeys.


David Pon 潘良驹

San Francisco, CA

Sign (Chinese Zodiac and Astrological)Horse, Gemini

What do you do for fun?  Go on picnics in beautiful places or BBQ in my backyard on a charcoal grill.

How did you hear about Roots?  My friend from high school, Liz Chan, told me about it.

What would you like to accomplish from this Roots experience?  I am excited to learn more about what it means to be part of the Chinese diaspora. Engaging with the other Roots interns has been really eye-opening about the diversity of experiences and stories in this community.

What are your expectations for the trip?  I'm expecting to spend most of the time hot and sweaty. I'm hoping to get the opportunity to engage more meaningfully with my culture and identity as a Chinese American person.


Corinne.jpeg

Corinne Tam 譚慧妍

San Francisco, CA

Sign (Chinese Zodiac and Astrological)Ox, Libra

What do you do for fun?  I enjoy hiking and photography. 

How did you hear about Roots?  I heard about Roots from family friends, Jon Pong & Kelly Der.

What would you like to accomplish from this Roots experience?  From this Roots experience, I hope to examine my family's history in detail, retrace their journey from China to the US, and gain a broader view of myself as a Chinese-American. I'm also really excited to share this experience with and learn about the people in my cohort. 

What are your expectations for the trip?  I have no idea what to expect! 


Jennifer.jpg

Jennifer Wong 黃麗婷

San Gabriel, CA aka The 626

Sign (Chinese Zodiac and Astrological)Water Rooster, Libra Sun, Leo Moon, Cancer Rising

What do you do for fun?  Write my life down, watch plays at local theatres, take film photos, read comic books, and watch RuPaul’s Drag Race reruns.

How did you hear about Roots?  I have this cousin — not a lot of people know her because she’s not really talked about — and her name’s Rosa Wong-Chie. Rosa’s been trying to recruit me every year for the past 27 years Roots has been around and I’m only 23 years old. I finally applied having had the pleasure of witnessing the past three Roots cohort presentations and subscribing to Al Cheng’s YouTube channel. It’s like Roots was in my life long before I was in Roots.

What would you like to accomplish from this Roots experience?  I want to create an enduring record of my Wong 黃 + Lui 雷 family tree and the many histories it holds. My eldest sister gave birth in August of 2016. If I could pass on to my niece the legacy of her immigrant grandparents and great-grandparents from Toisan, I'd feel more than accomplished.

What are your expectations for the trip?  You know that movie cliche where some grody archaeologists return a lost relic to its original site and that’s supposed to stop the world from ending but then all of a sudden the walls shake and spirits awaken and the sun flickers on and off? I expect something like that for this trip. It should be really unsettling but also fantastic. I want to think that going back to my ancestral villages will end my search for identity and bring closure to generational trauma, when really the ending to the movie will just be a setup for an egregiously budgeted sequel.


Wayne Yeh 葉威

Raised in both Chico & Huntington Beach, CA and now living in Boston, MA 

Sign (Chinese Zodiac and Astrological): Wood Dog (I considered doing Roots in 2018 instead, but thought it would be unlucky for my rooting to be during my own zodiac year), Taurus

What do you do for fun?  After moving out to Boston to pursue my undergraduate degree at Tufts University, I became involved in grassroots community organizing in the Chinese American and Asian American community. I now work as a civic action organizer at the Chinese Progressive Association in Boston, and have spent much of my time advocating for and embracing the community in Boston's Chinatown. I spend most of my time eating cheung fan and sitting in cafes.

How did you hear about Roots?  I was researching Chinese diasporic communities and came across Gaginang.org in February 2017. There was a blog post from 2010 introducing Roots, and it felt like I stumbled upon something I didn't know I was looking for. On the Roots site I learned that the 2016 cohort presentation was going to take place in Oakland within 4 days of finding the site--the same weekend I was heading to Oakland for an Asian Americans Advancing Justice summit! I took this coincidence as a sign to apply as soon as possible, and now, here I am.

What would you like to accomplish from this Roots experience?  I hope to deepen my understanding of the Hakka Chinese experience as well as contextualize my family's migration history from Huizhou by documenting my rooting as an auto-ethnography. I'm also excited to have the opportunity to update our clan's zupu 族譜 with the names of my grandfather and great-grandfather's descendants. Ultimately, I'd love to find ways to share my Roots experience with the larger Chinese American community in the Northeast. I'm also looking forward to connecting with my fellow Rooters and alum!

What are your expectations for the trip?  I'm expecting to not only be impacted by my own rooting, but by the rootings of peers in my cohort as well. I think it'll be impactful to connect to and witness the rootings of my peers within our common Chinese diaspora.


Rayna Young 楊文麗

Oakland, CA

Sign (Chinese Zodiac and Astrological):  Horse, Gemini

What do you do for fun?  Hike and be outdoors!

How did you hear about Roots?  Initially from stumbling upon a Roots exhibit at Oakland Asian Cultural Center many years ago, then from good friend and Roots board member Jane Chin, and most recently from family who participated in Roots Plus 2016.

What would you like to accomplish from this Roots experience?  I hope to see and learn more about the homes and communities my grandparents had to leave behind to move to the United States so that their children and future generations - including me - could grow up Chinese American.

What are your expectations for the trip?  Continuous learning and growth!  I am also excited to visit the ancestral villages of the rest of the group!

 


Meet Roots Plus 2016!

Roots Plus 2016 will have two groups going in parallel this year. One group consists of people who heard about Roots through various networking sources and the second group is comprised of Benson and Bernie Wong's (2012 Roots Plus) extended family members.

At the Eat.Root.Love. Gala in April 2016

At the Eat.Root.Love. Gala in April 2016


Randy Lee

Brentwood, CA

What inspired you to join the Roots program and search for your roots?

My sister Bernie Wong.  Bernie has been working for several years using family and outside resources to gather information about our family here in the US and the villages in China were our grandparents were born.  It seemed to enrich her already full life and I wanted to do the same, to not view from the outside looking in but allow this search to enrich my life.

What do you hope to be able to share with your family after going on this journey?

My son Nathan is traveling with us.  My hope is that Nathan will begin to learn about his Chinese heritage, a heritage rich in history and culture that he knows almost nothing about.  That Nathan will pass onto his brother Aaron and future generations, that their heritage is not only American but they also share a rich and proud Chinese heritage.


Benson Wong

San Francisco, CA

What inspired you to join the Roots program and search for your roots?

My wife, Bernie and I were 2012 Rootsplus Rooters.  This year, we are bringing our daughter (Dr. Shelley Wong), son-in-law (Dr. Kenneth Wong), grandchildren (Justin 15, Emi 12, Addie 9), Bernie's brother (Randy Lee), Evelyn Wong (friend), Melinda Wong, and her son (Kanoa 5).  

When I was young, my mother used to tell me that if people ask where I was from, not to say that I was from San Francisco but from "Hoisan, Sam Say Heung, Suan May, Wing Lok Toon".  However, I only knew that I attended San Francisco public schools (Commodore Stockton, Francisco, Washington, CCSF, SF State, USF) and that foreign place didn't mean a thing to me. 

In 2002 while attending UC Santa Cruz, my youngest daughter, Kimi, wrote a term paper about my family's journey to America.  I was inspired to learn more.  Before she died, I had asked my mother about our ancestral village but she wouldn't talk about it.  She commented that the communist had taken everything, all of our relatives are here (USA) and not to go there.  My eldest sister (who came over with my mom, dad, brother in 1932) had the same response.  Relatives, too!

If someone told me not to do something, I take it as a challenge.  However, I did not know where to begin.  Then, I ran into Albert at some social function and exchanged pleasantries, i.e., how are you, children, working, etc.  He said that he was bringing young adults back to their ancestral villages in Guangdong.  I told him that he should organize a program for old farts like me!  He just chuckled and mumbled something to the affect that old farts were too hard to take care of.  In 2010, I ran into John Wong at a golf course (Poppy Ridge), where he was a marshal.  John said that he was working with Albert in organizing a group of older people to go back to their ancestral villages!  Son of a  ... why wasn't I invited?  It was too late to join the first Rootsplus group but I made it a point to John that I was going on the next trip!  At the interview with Albert and John, they asked me why I wanted to go and I responded "my mother told me not to!"  They had no choice but to allow me to join the 2012 Rooters.  Initially, my wife Bernie, was just going to tag along but Albert and John convinced her to research her family's roots.  It's a learning experience for her because she's discovering her convoluted family history and I'm not sure who I married for 48 years!


What do you hope to be able to share with your family after going on this journey?
I want my children and grandchildren to know who they are and where they came from.  What they do with that information is up to them but at least they will know that they're Chinese ... from Hoisan!


Carole Louie

San Francisco, CA


What inspired you to join the Roots program and search for your roots?
This might be difficult for some to believe, but my father's spirit guided me to FOR and to search for my roots. I have seen ghosts all my life, but I blocked this gift until it was my father. I have been communicating with him ever since he died in 1990 and have been recording the conversations. They come little by little. It's like finding pieces of a 100,000 piece puzzle, but Dad is finally telling me things he would not tell me when he was alive. It is an amazing story of forgiveness, healing beyond the veil of what we call death, and my inexplicable connection to the Louie family through many lives. The experience changed my life.

What do you hope to be able to share with your family after going on this journey?

I am writing Dad's story which I will share with my core family: my younger brother and sister and their family as well as my daughter and grandchildren, and my older half-brother and his family. My half-brother was born in China and did not immigrate to the US. Until 1979. His children were born in China and came here in 1980's. Their children were born here. I feel it is important to record our story, not just the genealogy factoids, for all of us to have a bette understanding of our Chinese-American experience.

However, this Roots journey has shown me that all beings are my family. As I share the story with my friends, and even with strangers, they resonate with different parts of the story, which I call "Conversations with a Hungry Ghost: Memoir of a Reluctant Medium." I am almost finished with all but the last chapter, which I will write after my trip to China in October.


Cynthia (Cyndi) Quan Trotter

Currently lives in Edmonds, WA.  Born and raised in Los Angeles, CA.

What inspired you to join the Roots program and search for your roots?

Inspiration to join Roots program:   My grand niece, Amanda Wilson Bergado, is working on her Ph.D. and heard about this program.   Amanda has been gathering research on the Quan family for many years.  She mentioned Roots to her grandmother (my sister), Diane Quan Chin, and I heard about it.    My parents were two of the co-founders of the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California and my mom and one of her sisters had done a lot of research on history of their parents.   When they each passed, I "inherited" all of the historical documents -- including a book of 34 generations of the Yee family.  I thought this would be a good opportunity to see where both my Quan and Yee families lived before they embarked for the U.S.   A long time friend recently found her Tom family in China and her experience has further inspired me to take this trip.

What do you hope to be able to share with your family after going on this journey?

I am looking forward to sharing this experience with Diane and Amanda and getting to know, from them, more about the Quan family.   I will definitely share photos and experiences with our brother and his family and with all of my Yee cousins and their families.   A few might even be interested in doing something similar in the future.


Deborah Anderson

San Jose, CA

What inspired you to join the Roots program and search for your roots?
I have been interested in learning about my roots background and when I found out there is an organization to assist me, I decided to join the group and go to China to find my paternal grandfather's village.

What do you hope to be able to share with your family after going on this journey?
I hope to share as much info that I find out about my family background. I know very little.
I also hope to share my personal experiences for this trip in Oct./Nov. 2016


Carl Peter Anderson

San Jose, CA

What inspired you to join the Roots program and search for your roots?

I am going with my wife, Deborah Anderson

What do you hope to be able to share with your family after going on this journey?

I (we) hope to share our experiences in China and any info about the family
we obtain.


Diane Sue Quan Chin
Oakland, California

What inspired you to join the Roots program and search for your roots?

Inspired by my granddaughter Amanda Bergado, who did lots of online research on both Chin's
and Quan's family history.

What do you hope to be able to share with your family after going on this journey?
Hope to gain more information and see what the villages are like.


Amanda Wilson Bergado (陈文德)

Prunedale, CA

What inspired you to join the Roots program and search for your roots?

My interest in the Roots Plus Program emanates from my intertwined personal and academic interests in Chinese American history. Although I am several generations removed from my family's migration from China, my cultural identity and spiritual outlook are greatly informed by my Cantonese roots. My curiosity about my family’s history and desire to better understand Chinese immigration in the broader context of Californian and American history also inspired me to pursue graduate studies in history. While I have found family memory and archival documents to be rich sources to learn about this past, I look forward to the unique perspectives afforded by this Roots trip. I'm incredibly grateful to be making this journey along with my grandmother and her half-sister.

What do you hope to be able to share with your family after going on this journey?
I look forward to sharing stories with my two young sons about my experiences with China --they are six and four years old. I am sure they will have countless questions about the sights, sounds, people, and especially the food. I am eager to share with them what their great-great grandfathers' villages are like now, and compare them with the descriptions that we have found in immigration documents and from accounts passed down through the family. There are big voids in what we know about my grandmother and grand-aunt's father's life in China, so I'm crossing my fingers that we will be able to learn more about his particular lineage and home community.


2016 Roots Recap

In July 2016, ten Roots interns visited their ancestral villages in the Pearl River Delta region in Guangdong, China. This year was another success with visits to every intern's village. These photos are just a glimpse of their journeys in China. Visit their blog for more stories and stay tuned for their community presentation next year!