We had our second session of American History Club on immigration. I decided to change our focus a bit. The first meeting discussed Irish immigration. This time we focused on Chinese immigration through Angel Island in California.
Subtitle: A Story of Angel Island
Genre: middle grade historical fiction
Length: 106 pages of story, 133 pages with the extra resources
Setting: China and Angel Island, 1922
Summary: Our narrator, Gim Lew Yep, is a ten-year old boy living in his village in China. His father comes home from America and decides to take him back to America when he leaves again. First, Gim must study to be able to answer the immigration interview questions. Gim has to learn all his relatives names and jobs, the set-up of the village, who lives where, the layout of his house, and more. The journey to the U.S. on the involves more studying and a lot of waiting. However, all that studying pays off and they both pass the immigration interview on Angel Island quickly.
Final thoughts: Wow, the U.S. worked pretty hard to keep Chinese immigration to a minimum. I knew that women weren’t usually allowed to enter the U.S., but I didn’t know about the immigration test the men had to pass. Ostensibly to make sure the same person who left was re-entering the U.S., the immigration officials asked so many questions about their lives in China. Now, it’s a wealth of family history. Then, it was a major source of worry. If you didn’t answer the questions the same every time, you could be sent back to China and then what money would the family live on? The story isn’t that exciting, but it made for some interesting discussions. We also answered some of the current U.S. naturalization questions (like you can find at USCIS website) to see how we’d do at passing the current test.
Title comes from: Gim’s father was considered a dragon because he was a Guest of the Golden Mountain (an immigrant to the U.S.). The story was about Gim, the child of the dragon.
Reading challenges fulfilled: none since the book was too short for me to count
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