Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Back Alley History

       Finally we have made it to the end of this extensive yet rewarding process. Though it took a lot of dedication and focus, I thoroughly enjoyed the moments I got to spend learning and competing with students who are set apart in the level of determination they show and exhibit in their pursuance of this scholarship and academic excellence. The tour in San Francisco was long and tiring, but at the end of the day, I enjoyed and appreciated what I learned and who I walked with. I learned things about San Francisco and history itself you wouldn't in regular textbooks. I also am beginning to recognize what is and is not held as significant within our culture, as I observed how audited history can become when significant social and racial issues and events are left out; though they are often the reason for our present. images)
       San Francisco is the home to thee beginning of Chinese-American history; it holds a lot of historic significance for the city and California in general yet the area is not protected. There are laws built to prevent a total annihilation of the area by builders and development, yet because of the issues our country has with the treatment and preservation of other cultures, the area is poverty ridden and completely separate; hidden from the public eye. In the beginning, the district was riddled with Tongs, prostitution, drugs and crime. Many Chinese came for gold but were sucked into a life of turmoil with little acceptance by Americans or the Irish immigrants. The effects of this are lasting and very apparent, reflecting the issues many minorities face living in America. It's so baffling how significant a place can be for the growth of a city ye get zero recognition. You would never dream that some of these sad buildings hold the stories and history of generations of greatness. When we passed the former office of Sun Yat-Sen, the "father of modern china", I was baffled at the condition of the building itself. His office sat atop a closed off gambling room, with no indication that a great man had once thought and resided there. No plaques. Zero recognition. It broke my heart to see that there was no move to recognize a man who basically brought a now very powerful nation into the modern era. If this is of little significance just because he wasn't in the white house, our country has a lot of growing to do.
       This tour was a testament to how American culture is built on the backs of those who come to add to its richness, yet the prejudice often found here leaves holes within our own history. I loved this way of learning where I was able to get a better. more full story instead of hollow facts found in my textbook. I was able to personally see and feel connected to a history I have nothing to do with yet also feel its effects. It was engaging and eye opening in ways I couldn't teach myself, and I appreciate experiences such as these greatly.
Simone Sheppard


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