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!