Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Hitting the Road

Wow! I have been rostered for Inquiring Minds, Humanities Washington's speakers series. I am so excited to travel out around the state, see the landscape, meet people and share the untold stories of early Chinese pioneers in the western frontier. I am really enthused about this project. The premiere of this program will be on September 9, 2010 at the Haller Lake Community Center, Seattle, with the Seattle Storytellers' Guild.

The July 'Heritage Tour of the American West', sponsored by the Wing Luke Asian Museum and the US Forest Service, certainly offered a wealth of cultural insights and firmly grounded information (yes, pun intended) into the immigration experience of early Chinese settlers; and I have been doing mountaineous amounts of reading and pondering to take in all the history and experiences. Through this I am shaping a listenable story program that will engage folks as well as inform. It is exciting to come at history from the "story" portion. There are so many "life stories" to share.

The most exciting thing for me is making the connection between immigration needs and fears in the 19th century, while the United States was in a huge developmental push to grow from coast to coast, and the needs and fears the country is experiencing in the 21st century, facing challenges and growth of a different sort. The question swirls through my thinking: "What does it mean to be American?" How do we live up to our ideals of possiblity and our responsibilities of citizenship?

I have more questions than answers, that's for sure. That is also why I find this opportunity so exciting. I look forward to travelling around Washington state to share conversations with folks.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Heading Home

Virginia City, Nevada - The hills fall away in layers from this place and the rising sun dries the mists in the valley pockets. Sage brush and ridges to the endless horizon. This is our last stop before we head home. It's hard to leave. Instead of heading home, it feels like leaving home.

We came together as strangers; now we leave as friends and family. We have spent hours travelling over hot, dusty trails; scrambled over walls of stones; and enjoyed the shade under sun-baked pine. When the way was rugged, we offered our hands. When spirits sagged, we lifted one another. We have wept over shared sorrows and roared with laughter at each others joys. We have told our stories. AND we have listened to our stories. Together, we honored the sprits that brought us together. It truly has been a historic journey.

Now, we are disbanding, spreading out to homes in Washington, or California, or DC and points between. We say it's heading home. But, in some way, I think we have been "home" this entire week. If home is the place where you are comfortable, where you are understood and valued, if home is a place where you have a sense of belonging, then we have found that our "home" is much larger than we had ever thought. We have been home all along.

for more about the Chinese Heritage Tour of the American West go to