November 14, 2013

visiting angel island

The last time I went to Angel Island was in elementary school on a field trip, and while I don't remember too much about it, I do remember it's where the Chinese were detained for days to months at a time before actually getting to immigrate to the U.S. This most recent visit definitely brought back those memories of writings on the wall that I saw as a young child, but this time around meant so much more.

They carved poems into the walls
What their sleeping quarters would have looked like - everything is so close together
More carvings
Most of the barracks are new, but this is an original, a bed someone would have slept in
More of the sleeping quarters
Whatever they brought with them is what they had for entertainment, clothing, or for snacking

All detainees were held on a very specific schedule of when to wake, when to use the bathroom, when to eat, and all with minimal allowance outside. They were also interrogated and asked questions to prove they were related to family members already in San Francisco, but the questions were sometimes ridiculous ones that not even you or I could answer (an example, how many windows are in your house, and this answer would have to match your other family member's exactly). There's so much more I could tell you, but if you're interested I highly recommend taking a visit on your own. You'll get to hear and read about stories of the immigrants and what it was like for them. My grandmother went through Angel Island to get to San Francisco, and there's even old letters from the days she was there. It wasn't just the Chinese that were detained there either, there were small pockets of people from Italy, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Africa, etc.

While this is one of the things many people visit/do on the island, there are also great hiking trails, and some days they have live music events at their cafe. You can tour the island by foot, bike, tram or even segway. If you've got interest, Ferry on over to the island and check out a piece of history.

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