A tale of two travelers

SAN FRANCISCO – When my parents came to this country for the first time, they hoped to find a better life, just as the Chinese did many years ago when they entered the United States through this Western immigration station in San Francisco Bay. As I entered the immigration station at Angel Island, now a state…

Angel Island: Following the paper trail

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — What if your grandfather wasn’t really related to you? What if you brother had never been your brother? Many Chinese-American families are discovering that their ancestors, immigrants from China in the 1840s, were not who they say they were. This phenomenon is called “paper sons,” families created on paper so that nephews,…

Angel Island Immigration Station holds memories, questions

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — Chinese poems, roughly inscribed into cracked and peeling lead paint, adorn the walls, offering a glimpse into the lives of Chinese immigrants; bunk beds holding period pieces and speakers looping recordings of various conversations in Chinese, Japanese, Russian and other languages give the impression that downtrodden immigrant detainees are only a room…

Angel Island: caught in the middle

SAN FRANCISCO — At first glance, it’s only an old building with chipped paint and warped floorboards. The grates over the windows are slightly rusted, and a subtle scent from a nearby floral arrangement mingles with the mustiness of the original wood. A second look, at the inner walls, though, reveals an outpouring of emotion…