Marlene Polio ’17
Project Title – Chinese Assimilation in the United States through Immigration and Education
Other Student Participants – Grace Mitchener ’17, Breanna Riggle ’18
Mentor – Darrell Albon
The first wave of Chinese immigrants arrived in the 1840s to California during the Gold Rush. The California Gold Rush was a pivotal time period for Chinese immigration since so many immigrants left China in hopes of striking gold and becoming wealthy enough to provide for their poverty-stricken families back in China. For our Theory-Into-Practice grant, we studied the process of assimilation that the Chinese endured in the United States, specifically in Los Angeles and San Francisco, California. This trip was organized to study the historical traces of assimilation left behind by the Chinese. The Chinese American Museum, the USC Pacific Asia Museum, the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California home and Chinatown are located in Los Angeles and Angel Island Immigration Station, the Chinese Historical Society of America home, and Chinatown are in San Francisco. We also visited sacred temples and churches to study the religious aspect while informal interviews with local Chinese residents were conducted to study their reactions and better understand the psychological trauma that the Chinese experienced. The information we discovered about the cruelty and discrimination that the Chinese experienced when arriving in America was shocking to us. Through our research and presentation we hope to articulate this struggle and how it has affected Chinese-American history.