Week Five Reading: Island

Island: Poetry and the History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island, 1910-1940, offers the reader a first-hand account of what Chinese immigrants endured when they were on Angel Island in San Francisco Bay. When I first read this book, I had no inkling or knew that a place such as Angel existed. I knew of Ellis Island in New York City harbor, as it was taught to us in schools. Reading more and more into this book, I became fascinated with the Chinese and what they went through on the island. While reading. I not only learned of the reasons while many Chinese immigrants came to America but also the process of what they went through in order to get into America. That was the process of interrogation, which from some of the readings took over a month on end meets, and something after those interrogations, some of the immigrants were sent back home, and how felt humiliated, and even embarrassed on how they were being sent back home.

While it was very interesting to read the poems that Chinese immigrants left on the walls, and how it describes their experience on Angel Island, it was also fascinated to read, in how long it took for people to really know what had happened on the Island. One of the themes that I noticed thoughout the book, was the way in how the immigrants describe the condtions. One of those conditions was the bad food even cramped living conditions, and the feeling of how the island felt like a prison, due to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. Another one was how, when they landed on the island, many of the immigrants had to go through a physical examination to make sure they did not bring any diseses into America. What really stood out to me the most, was the interrogration process, and how many of them descibed how the process was long, and even humilating. In one instences one woman commited suicide after her case had been denined, and she had two sons, who occupied her to America. Overall, I thought the book was interesting to read about Chinese immigrants and their endurance on Angel Island, while entering the United States in the early twenthy century. I also thought I was interesting to learn learn more about the Island, America’s attitudes towards the Chinese.

2 thoughts on “Week Five Reading: Island

  1. I agree, I didn’t learn about Angel Island until I read this book. To see how painful the experience was through the words of people who actually endured it was very impactful. I think we often get to hear the stories of European immigrants so to see the immigration experience through Chinese immigrants was really interesting. I also thought a powerful part of this book was having both the translated version and the original version of the writing, I think it allowed me to appreciate the language difference and just how different America was/ is. I also thought it was sad to see the contrast of the expectations the immigrants had of America, versus what they had to endure.

  2. It strikes me as odd how the public education system decides what they and do not teach. I remember learning about Ellis Island and even touching how some immigrants were discriminated against but I was never told about Angel Island and I feel like it is a topic that should have been touched on. Especially since Angel Island is exemplary of the shift in attitudes with how the nation should treat people trying to enter the country. It was upsetting reading how they were treated and how they were humiliated in many ways. But I think that the book paints a detailed picture of what Chinese immigrants went through and how determined they were to improve both their lives and their family’s lives.

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