Thursday, July 7, 2016

Memories of Chinese Migration in Queens, NYC

Updates from Queens Library:

Meet Yingwen Huang!
(left to right) Yingwen Huang, Lita Solis, Joanne T. Dolman, Sarah Quick at a 
Queens Memory event at Forest Hills Library, February 2016.

Yingwen is the emerging Library and Archives professional selected to lead the charge in planning and facilitating dozens of community events for the Memories of Migration program in Queens, New York City.  An immigrant herself, Ying brings her library skills and her personal experiences as a Chinese American to the demanding and rewarding work of adding personal migration histories of Queens residents to the library’s permanent archival collections.  Queens Library, as one of four model sites for the program, will host 40 community Memories of Migration history events tailored to elderly immigrants from Hong Kong, Taiwan and mainland China. In addition to Yingwen, fluent Mandarin and Cantonese speakers will be on hand to help conduct the events and catalog the resulting digitized materials. Our first Memories of Migration event, an oral history workshop, was held on February 20th in conjunction with the Queens Museum’s New New Yorkers program. Most events will be take place at the Flushing Library, at the heart of New York City’s largest Chinese neighborhood.

Memories of Migration
Workshop participants at Queens Museum, February 2016.

Because of the many Chinese community organizations and cultural heritage institutions in Queens dedicated to serving Chinese audiences, the Queens Library Memories of Migration team had the opportunity to leverage some powerful partnerships to co-host events, cross-promote and generally leverage an already activated community.  To pull all of these programs together into one, coherent place for the public, the Memories of Migration events will be part of a larger series called Living Memory: The Culture and Heritage of Chinese New Yorkers. Partners include the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA), Flushing Town Hall, Asian Americans for Equality, the Forest Hills Asian Association, Chinese-American Planning Council, Chinese Christian Herald Crusades, and a number of local senior day care centers. Queens Library Board Member Eve C. Guillergan, Esq. has joined the team as a passionate advocate, speaking directly to participants at larger Living Memory events, like film screenings and panel discussions, to make a case for the work the Queens Library team is doing to document the history and cultural contributions of the Chinese community in Queens.

(left to right) Yingwen Huang, Queens Memory Director Natalie Milbrodt, Queens Memory contributor Sandy Liu, Queens Library Board Member Eve C. Guillergan Esq. and Danielle Chang at a screening of Chang's television show, Lucky Chow at the Flushing Community Library, April 2016.
Natalie Milbrodt interviews Zhang Hongtu, March 2016. Photo by Jingyi Zhang.

The Living Memory inaugural event was held March 14, 2016 at the Flushing Library. The evening featured Queens Memory Director Natalie Milbrodt who conducted an interview with artist Zhang Hongtu, as well as a panel discussion on issues of identity in the process of becoming American. Panel participants included New York City Councilman Peter Koo, Jiayang Fan of The New Yorker, Prof. Peter Kwong of Hunter College and the CUNY Graduate Center, and food writer Kian Lam Kho.

In addition to the scanning and story sharing events scheduled March-October of 2016, Yingwen will also be training youth volunteers of Chinese heritage organized and hosted by Chinese Christian Herald Crusades (CCHC) who are interested in conducting oral history interviews with elders from their families and church community. Queens Library staff will process the interviews, preserve them and make them accessible to researchers.