“From the cities, villages, and farms of their birth, they journeyed across the Pacific, seeking better lives for themselves and their children. Many arrived at Angel Island, weary but hopeful, only to be unjustly confined for months or, in some cases, years. As we remember their struggle, we honor all who have been drawn to America by dreams of limitless opportunity.
Unlike immigrants who marveled at the Statue of Liberty upon arrival at Ellis Island, those who came to Angel Island were greeted by an intake facility that was sometimes called the “Guardian of the Western Gate.” Racially prejudiced immigration laws of the time subjected many to rigorous exams and interrogations, as well as detention in crowded, unsanitary barracks. Some expressed themselves by carving poetry and inscriptions into the walls in their native language — from Chinese, Japanese, and Korean to Russian, German, and Urdu. These etchings remain on Angel Island today as poignant reminders of the immigrant experience and an unjust time in our history.
If there is any vindication for the Angel Island immigrants who endured so many hardships, it is the success achieved by those who were allowed entry, and the many who, at long last, gained citizenship. They have contributed immeasurably to our Nation as leaders in every sector of American life. The children of Angel Island have seized the opportunities their ancestors saw from across an ocean. By demonstrating that all things are possible in America, this vibrant community has created a beacon of hope for future generations of immigrants.”
The History That We Stand On, and The Future We Stand For
On January 20, 2021, Amanda Gorman became the sixth and youngest poet, at age twenty-two, to deliver a poetry reading at a presidential inauguration. She was invited to write a poem inspired by the theme, “America United.” Amanda wanted to write about a new chapter in our country, while acknowledging the dark chapter in American history that we are living through. “Now more than ever, the United States needs an inaugural poem,” Gorman said. “Poetry is typically the touchstone that we go back to when we have to remind ourselves of the history that we stand on, and the future that we stand for.”
We will rebuild, reconcile and recover and every known nook of our nation and every corner called our country, our people diverse and beautiful will emerge, battered and beautiful When day comes we step out of the shade, aflame and unafraid The new dawn blooms as we free it For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it If only we’re brave enough to be it
In response to the Inauguration Day, poet Flo Oy Wong wrote this new poem, inspired by Amanda Gorman, America’s first National Youth Poet Laureate, and Kamala Harris, the first woman, as well as the first African American and first Asian American, to serve as Vice President of the United States. Kamala means“lotus flower”in Sanskrit.
As a Petal of Hope Takes Shape
In brackish water, hope emerges from a cracked seed like the lotus. In search of light, hope wends itself, stretches towards illumination, waits to dance with dreams. As a petal of hope takes shape it tastes like delectable kindness. It smells sweet like heartfelt compassion. It feels like golden silk stitched to goodness of humankind.
FLO OY WONG, January 5 – 19, 2021
The world premiere performance of Huang Ruo’s “Your Wall is Our Canvas: The Angel Island” with The Del Sol String Quartet is currently planned for October 2021 on Angel Island.
HEALDSBURG JAZZ is proud to present a FREE family concert titled “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: Through the Eyes of Children” on the birthdate of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Friday, January 15 at 7-8 pm PST and again on Saturday, January 16 at 12-1 pm PST.
The concert is a 1-hour music and spoken word performance inspired by and dedicated to the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the music of the Civil Rights Movement, presented in collaboration with Stanford‘s King Research & Education Institute, led by Professor Clayborne Carson who was selected in 1985 by Coretta Scott King to edit and publish the papers of her late husband.
Artistic Director of Healdsburg Jazz Festival Marcus Shelby has put together a wonderful lineup of performers for the virtual program — vocalists Kim Nalley and Tiffany Austin, Tammy Hall on piano, Genius Wesley on drums, with Healdsburg Jazz Poet Laureate Enid Pickett and youth poet Selma Arapa. “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: Through the Eyes of Children” was filmed at The Sound Room in Oakland, CA, directed by filmmaker Kevin Johnson.
For Educators, Families, Students: Healdsburg Jazz has also created free downloadable resources, including an independent study guide and fact sheet, a timeline, a playlist of songs, a playlist of speeches, and suggested books and poems about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the music of the Civil Rights era.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on The Soul of The Movement
“An important part of the mass meetings was the freedom songs. In a sense the freedom songs are THE SOUL OF THE MOVEMENT.
They are more than just incantations of clever phrases designed to invigorate a campaign; they are as old as the history of the Negro in America. They are adaptations of songs the slaves sang-the sorrow songs, the shouts for joy, the battle hymns, and the anthems of our movement. I have heard people talk of their beat and rhythm, but we in the movement are as inspired by their words. “Woke Up This Morning with My Mind Stayed on Freedom” is a sentence that needs no music to make its point. We sing the freedom songs for the same reason the slaves sang them, because we too are in bondage and the songs add hope to our determination that “We shall overcome, Black and white together, we shall overcome someday.” These songs bound us together, gave us courage together, helped us march together. We could walk toward any Gestapo force. We had cosmic companionship, for we were singing, “Come By Me, Lord, Come By Me.”
With this music, a rich heritage from our ancestors who had the stamina and the moral fiber to be able to find beauty in broken fragments of music, whose illiterate minds were able to compose eloquently simple expressions of faith and hope and idealism, we can articulate our deepest groans and passionate yearnings-and end always on a note of hope that God is going to help us work it out, right here in the South where evil stalks the life of a Negro from the time he is placed in his cradle. Through this music, the Negro is able to dip down into wells of a deeply pessimistic situation and danger-fraught circumstances and to bring forth a marvelous, sparkling, fluid optimism. He knows it is still dark in his world, but somehow, he finds a ray of light.”
“FIGURES OF DISCORD SPRING FROM SOUL, reminding us that neither artist nor citizen nor believer ought ever concede their truth in the face of rule or custom…
Ralph Ellison famously claimed for Black music power to curve mind and sense, helping the willing listener to see around corners. Jim Crow, Klan violence, government vacillation and the persistence of war and poverty successively placed hard-angled obstacles before the Movement, demanding an arc of vision that called upon the utmost of imagination and love. The genius of Marcus Shelby, composer, performer, student and citizen, is to teach through artistry, so that we might bend our own sight, and make the worlds we seek to live for.”
— DR. ADAM GREEN, University of Chicago on Marcus Shelby’s Soul of The Movement (2011)
Soul of the Movement: Meditations on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is a 12 part musical suite that honors the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and many others who marched and protested for freedom. After 3 years of research, artist residencies, and traveling throughout the south Marcus Shelby composed and orchestrated the music for “Soul of the Movement” for his 15 piece big band orchestra with guest vocalists Faye Carol, Kenny Washington, and Jeannine Anderson and guest instrumentalists Howard Wiley (soprano and tenor sax), Matt Clark (B3 Organ), and Sistah Kee (piano). Soul of the Movement was released in 2011 and has become part of school presentations in and around the San Francisco Bay Area on an annual basis.
Oakland Chinatown-born, NELLIE WONG has published four books: Dreams in Harrison Railroad Park, The Death of Long Steam Lady, Stolen Moments and Breakfast Lunch Dinner. Her poems and essays appear in numerous journals and anthologies. Two pieces are installed at public sites in San Francisco. She’s co-featured in the documentary film, “Mitsuye and Nellie Asian American Poets,” and among her recognitions, a building at Oakland High School is named after her. A poem of hers was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She’s traveled to China in the First American Women Writers Tour with Alice Walker, Tillie Olsen and Paule Marshall, among others. She’s taught poetry writing at Mills College and in Women Studies at the University of Minnesota.
GENNY LIM is San Francisco Jazz Poet Laureate emeritus, born and raised in San Francisco to immigrant parents from the Kwantung region of Toisan, where an oral culture rich with folklore, natural medicine and healing songs was brought to America. The rhythms and music of the Toisan (Hoisan) language, find harmony of expression in the freedom of contemporary jazz and it is there, where Lim’s voice has flourished. She is author of five poetry collections, Winter Place, Child of War, Paper Gods and Rebels, KRA!, La Morte Del Tempo, and co-author of Island: Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island, winner of the American Book Award and the forthcoming anthology of Senior Asian American memoirs, Window: Glimpses of Our Storied Past. Lim’s award-winning play, Paper Angels, was the first Asian American play that aired on PBS’s American Playhouse in 1985 and has been produced throughout the U.S., Canada and China.
At the age of 9, artist/poet/educator FLO OY WONG, a De Anza College alumni, knew that she loved words. A few years later, say 79 years, she has become a poet who uses English and her parents’ native Chinese dialect to show and to tell her collected stories of family and community. A co-founder of the Asian American Women Artists Association, she has received three National Endowment for the Arts awards. In 2018, Flo celebrated her 80th birthday with the publication of her art & poetry book, Dreaming of Glistening Pomelos. Through her art and poetry she supports those who use their individual and collective voices for social justice. She stands by individuals and organizations who put diversity, equity, and inclusion into practice. As an elder, she connects with younger people who inspire her.
DEL SOL STRING QUARTET
The San Francisco-based DEL SOL STRING QUARTET is a leading force in 21st century chamber music – whether introducing Ben Johnston’s microtonal Americana at the Library of Congress, taking Aeryn Santillan’s gun-violence memorial to the streets of the Mission District, exploring Andean soundscapes with Gabriela Lena Frank and traditional musicians, or collaborating with Huang Ruo and the anonymous poets who carved their words into the walls of the Angel Island Immigration Station during the years of the Chinese Exclusion Act. Our current lineup, featuring Del Sol founder and Artistic Director Charlton Lee on viola, cellist Kathryn Bates and violinists Ben Kreith and Sam Weiser, looks to bring a fresh energy, freedom, and precision to our diverse repertoire. By bringing the string quartet tradition from its European roots into global traditions, including an emphasis on the Asian continent, Del Sol makes contemporary chamber music a dynamic part of today’s culture. https://www.delsolquartet.com/
JING JING YANG, Cupertino Poet Laureate
JING JING YANG is Cupertino’s sixth Poet Laureate. Jing Jing grew up with a love for poetry, listening to her father recite Chinese classic poetry from the Han, Tang and Song dynasties. Since moving to Cupertino in 2011, Jing Jing has been a part of the City’s poetry community and has enjoyed the programs of previous poet laureates as a creative outlet. Jing Jing aims to help Cupertino become a place where the West meets the East, the past meets the future and its poetic voice be heard around the globe. https://www.cupertino.org/residents/arts-and-culture/cupertino-poet-laureate
GENEVIEVE LEUNG, Associate Professor, University of San Francisco
Genevieve Leung is the academic director of the Asian Pacific Studies MA program and director of the Asian Pacific American Studies minor. She has a BA in linguistics from UC Berkeley and dual MA degrees in linguistics (TESOL) and education (Language and Literacy) from UC Davis. She received her PhD in Educational Linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania. She has taught high school English in Japan, as well as English writing, effective communication, and reading and vocabulary courses at Stanford University. She was the co-instructor of the TESOL Workshop at the University of Pennsylvania, training novice ESL teachers in the fundamentals of TESOL. Genevieve is also very interested in heritage language maintenance, particularly of Chinese Americans of Cantonese and Toisanese/Hoisan-wa language backgrounds. https://www.usfca.edu/faculty/genevieve-leung
Him Mark Lai; Genny Lim; Judy Yung, eds. Island: Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island. University of Washington Press. June 1999. ISBN 978-0-295-97109-4.
Lim, Genny. Winter Place. Kearney St Workshop Press. ISBN 978-0-9609630-4-1.
Lim, Genny. Child of War. University of Hawaii Press. January 2003. ISBN 978-0-9709597-3-7.
Wong, Flo Oy. Dreaming of Glistening Pomelos. Ling Oy Press. September 2018. ISBN 9781732619807
Wong, Nellie; Merle Woo; Mitsuye Yamada (2003). Three Asian American Writers Speak Out on Feminism. Seattle, Washington: Red Letter Press. ISBN 0-9725403-5-0.
Wong, Nellie (editor) (1999). Yolanda Alaniz (co-editor) (ed.). Voices of Color: Reports from the Front Lines of Resistance by Radicals of Color. Seattle, Washington: Red Letter Press. ISBN 0-932323-05-7.
Wong, Nellie (1997). Stolen Moments. Goshen, Connecticut: Chicory Blue Press. ISBN 1887344039.
Wong, Nellie (1986). The Death of Long Steam Lady. Los Angeles, California: West End Press. ISBN 0-931122-42-2.
Wong, Nellie (1977). Dreams in Harrison Railroad Park: Poems. Berkeley, California: Kelsey St. Press. ISBN 0-932716-14-8.
Voices of Resilience: An online exhibition celebrating the Angel Island Immigration Station’s historic poetry and poems submitted by the public; Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation (2020) https://www.aiisf.org/voicesofresilience
Summer vacation provided an interesting opportunity to explore virtual learning with students at Dianne Feinstein Elementary School. When the 2019-2020 school ended, students entering the fifth grade were presented with an open invitation to participate in a free summer music workshop with the Del Sol String Quartet. Our stated goal: To work with workshop participants to create a book and recording of an original musical composition for The Del Sol String Quartet & Huang Ruo’s “Your Wall is Our Canvas: The Angel Island Project.”
With a more relaxed summer schedule, the pre-workshop assignments and on-line music workshop were designed to give students a self-driven, hands-on arts exploration over the course of a month. Students were presented with two assignments, in advance of a July 13th online Zoom workshop with the members of Del Sol. The online workshop aimed to create a low-stress experience where the participating students would have fun socially connecting with their peers through musical play.
A Change of Perspective with Digital Photography
The first summer assignment explored digital photography, through a series of prompts, inspired by nine collaborative poems written by the 4th grade class. Using a camera can help to open up new ways of appreciating and enjoying familiar physical surrounds, and the students had been sheltering in place at home since March 13. After confirming that each student had access to a cell phone that would enable them to take digital photos, the workshop participants were presented with nine exercises that would encourage students to explore their everyday surroundings. When we gathered online, it was a fun treat to enjoy seeing each of the individual responses to the same prompt and appreciate the personal way that each photographer addressed the assignment.
A Sonic Scavenger Hunt
The second assignment was inspired by Del Sol musical collaborator, composer Danny Clay, who enjoys creating playful games that help people to create music together. His Sonic Scavenger Hunt calls for students to look for objects at home based on a list of ten sounds types.
An eclectic collection of sounds, gathered at home by Leah:
Students brought their discoveries to the workshop, and together the group explored how their mini-orchestras could be put together into a musical composition. Students were also invited to record three sounds that describe “home,” found either inside their homes or outside. Sound of Home is the resulting collection, preserved for the future on the Internet Archive.
In addition to the sounds gathered at home by 4th graders, another collection, Sound of Home: San Franciscowas recorded from a variety of San Francisco locations,and both collections shared in celebration of World Listening Day 2020. Since 2010, every July 18th, thousands of people all over the world have participated in World Listening Day by sharing soundscapes, in remembrance of renowned Canadian composer, music educator, and author, R. Murray Schafer. His World Soundscape Project developed the fundamental ideas and practices of acoustic ecology in the 1970s.
Teaching artist Andi Wong’s first visit to Angel Island was in 1989, when she and her husband brought her father-in-law Billy back to the island, for the very first time since he was admitted to the United States in February of 1931. Touring the barracks, Billy shared painful childhood memories of being held on the island for 18 days, not knowing when he would be allowed to leave. He sadly recalled how lonely and isolated he felt, especially when evening fell, and the sounds of music and people laughing drifted across the Bay.
The familiar soothing sounds of ocean waves lapping at the shore opens the collaborative musical composition featuring our youth orchestra of found sound. A new poem shared by artist/poet Flo Oy Wong, spoken in the Hoisan-wa dialect of the Angel Island immigrant poets, transitions to the sounds of the Del Sol String Quartet, playing a musical selection from composer Huang Ruo.
九 9 Poems for “Your Wall is Our Canvas: The Angel Island Project”
“九 9 poems for Your Wall is Our Canvas: The Angel Island Project,” an online book of the poetry and artwork created by the soon-to-be 5th graders at Dianne Feinstein Elementary, builds upon existing school programming. 2020 marked the tenth anniversary of Author’s Day at DFES, a highly anticipated school event which brings children’s book authors and illustrators to read to children in every classroom. Sadly, this event was cancelled, along with most of the arts events planned for Spring, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Working to help the students to create their own book was a nice way to acknowledge this special school tradition. By archiving the book of student poems, photographs and essays on the Internet Archive for open access and download, this project also offers an example of how bookmaking might be explored by classes in the future. In addition to the students, staff key to the history of the school, the librarian Carol Fuerth and the art teacher Sharon Collins, were also engaged in the project, and the history of their contributions acknowledged, recorded and preserved for the future.
Reflections on Learning: 2019-2020
The Del Sol String Quartet’s partnership with Dianne Feinstein Elementary School is as an example of an integrated, expansive artistic collaboration that is possible with community engagement. In a time that calls for both collective imagination and coordinated action, there is great benefit in giving young people the opportunity to learn alongside artists, who model both discipline and adaptability in art and life.
The artistic project also serves as a record of an unusual time, when so much of what was considered to be “normal” changed. There will certainly be challenges ahead in these most uncertain of times, but as students, teachers and families prepare to begin a new school year, we take a moment of reflection to appreciate the lessons that we learned in 2020.
“Since we can’t go to school, I really miss it. I miss DFES, my friends, my teachers, and everything from DFES. I grew up there and can’t believe I used to be in Kindergarten. DFES is important to me because of everything I have learned there.”
In the course of developing this project with the school community, personal connections were made, internal resources discovered, and bridges were built across generations, between school and home. This arts project encouraged and amplified the diverse voices of a school’s community, while recording and preserving community history. Children were presented with a multitude of ways to reflect upon their own personal identities and consider the importance of their family, school and culture, as they created their own works of art. Del Sol String Quartet’s Angel Island Project at Dianne Feinstein Elementary School presented an opportunity to see Art as the Ocean, not just as the Island.
And the learning continues…
“Your Wall is Our Canvas: the Angel Island Project,” composed by Huang Ruo and performed by the Del Sol String Quartet with the contemporary chamber choir, Volti, will weave a story of immigration and discrimination of then and now. https://www.delsolquartet.com/angelisland
This project is supported in part by the Hewlett Foundations 50 Arts Commissions, the Clarence E. Heller Charitable Foundation and the Phyllis C. Wattis Foundation. Del Sol String Quartet’s partnership with Dianne Feinstein ES, was made possible thanks to an Artists and Communities Partnership – Creative Youth Arts (ACIP-CY) grant from the San Francisco Arts Commission.
THE ANGEL ISLAND IMMIGRATION STATION was a global crossroads for immigrants from 80 countries around the world. (An estimated 300,000 people were detained at Angel Island, including 100,000 Chinese, 85,000 Japanese, 8,000 South East Asians, 8,000 Russians and Jews, 1,000 Koreans, and 1,000 Filipinos.) When the doors of the Angel Island Immigration Station shut in 1940, the hundreds of poems carved on the barracks walls by Chinese immigrants were locked inside and forgotten. The poems were rediscovered in 1970 by park ranger Alexander Weiss.
The Angel Island poetry carved into the barrack walls imitates a well-known classical style called “jueju poetry,” developed in the T’ang Dynasty (618-907), when the arts flourished and there were many advancements in the areas of engineering and technology. Perhaps the most important of these, especially in regards to the lives of children today, was the invention of woodblock printing. Woodblock printing allowed books to be printed in mass production. Books helped to increase literacy and to pass on knowledge. It was during this time that poetry became an integral part of the Chinese culture.
In 1976, California appropriated $250,000 for the preservation of the poetry and the building. Today more than 200 poems from the Angel Island barracks have been recorded. Using the latest computer graphics technology, research teams have discovered 172 Chinese poems, 33 graphic images, and 200 inscriptions in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Punjabi, Spanish, Italian, German and English.
I look forward to the day when the descendants of the one million immigrants who came through Angel Island, including approximately 175,000 Chinese-Americans, can revisit the spot where their ancestors made such great sacrifices for them.
There are few more intimate and personal reminders of our history as immigrants than the poems carved on the walls of the Detention Barracks by those who awaited word on whether they would be admitted into this country.
The Dianne Feinstein ES fourth grade classrooms opened the door to The Angel Island Project on January 16, when the fourth graders were introduced to Angel Island history in a poetry workshop led by teaching artist Andi Wong.
The classroom poetry workshop began with an artifact found in her grandfather’s suitcase, which was used during his travels between China to the United States. As the object was passed from hand to hand around the room, the students were invited to guess what the mysterious object might be, and why would someone might pack this item for an ocean crossing? The student’s keen sense of smell offered an important clue, and the students agreed that this object smelled a lot like cinnamon!
Cinnamon (from far away Toishan)
Scent (wafts from the battered brown)
Suitcase. (Whispers from the)
Island (of Immortals to)
Angels (here on Earth)
Collaborative acrostic poem by Ms. McCullough’s 4th Graders, (with grace notes by Andi)
The fourth graders began by creating acrostic poems inspired by their names and nature, using words to capture and express their impressions of self and nature. The student poems will inspire the creation of a book and a musical composition that will be shared with audiences at the world premiere of Your Wall is Our Canvas.
THE BETTER ANGELS OF OUR NATURE
Ms. Harrington, Ms. McCullough, and Ms. Rondone’s classes were working on the poetry project, as news began reporting of a COVID-19 pandemic, which required citizens all over the world to shelter in place. In this time, the classroom poetry inspired the grade level auction project, a mirror of words, framed with art created by the fourth graders working with art teacher Sharon Collins. Words and phrases were set in “stone”— stamped into earthen clay, using solar dyes to paint with sunlight in a time of great uncertainty. The visual art piece was created to inspire self-reflection and hopes for a future where Nature and Humanity are in harmony, joined together as One. The community was invited to come to school for an Art Walk on Friday, April 13, the final day on site for the 2020 school year. The work was auctioned to raise much needed funds for school programs.
VOICES OF RESILIENCE
The poetry written by fourth graders in the January 16 workshop at the start of 2020, took on a whole new meaning by March 13th, when the COVID-19 pandemic closed Bay Area schools, ultimately for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.
Nine collaborative poems from the 4th grade were submitted and selected for the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation’s first virtual exhibition. Voices of Resilience celebrates the 50th anniversary of the re-discovery of over 200 Chinese poems carved into the walls of the detention barracks at the U.S. Immigration Station at Angel Island. The rediscovery triggered a set of efforts to preserve the building, ultimately resulting in the designation of the site as a U.S. National Historic Landmark in 1997.
The exhibition features a total of 55 poems including 22 historical poems and 33 contemporary poems selected from online submissions from the general public. In addition to the fourth grade DFES student work, the contemporary poems included contributions from former Angel Island detainees, their descendants, including The Last Hoisan Poets – Island author Genny Lim, Nellie Wong and Flo Oy Wong – and an anthology by the Sato/Bukowski/ Haechler Family. The online exhibition ran from May 1 through through June 30, 2020, where the poems remain on the walls of the AIISF’s website archives — Voices of Resilience to be discovered by future visitors.
“At a time when there are significantly increased reports of anti-Asian harassment and assaults related to the COVID-19 pandemic, it felt important to AIISF’s Board and Staff to continue to ensure that the histories and stories related to the immigrant detention at Angel Island are not forgotten. Our hope is that Voices of Resilience serves a reminder of the empathy, connection, and resiliency that is important especially in times like this.” stated AIISF Executive Director Edward Tepporn.
“Everybody can be great … because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
— Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., from The Drum Major Instinct, (1968)
In the future, it is hoped that the Del Sol String Quartet & Huang Ruo’s “Your Wall is Our Canvas: The Angel Island Project” will premiere on the island. The new Angel Island Immigration Museum, the former Public Health Service hospital, will open in the future, allowing visitors to apply history’s lessons to nurture civil society and protect civil rights. The AIISF Virtual Gala, “Celebrating Our Dreams, Imagining Our Future,”takes place online on August 19, 2020. The event is free to attend, so please spread the word among your friends and family members. We can all help to ensure that the important histories and stories related to the former U.S. Immigration Station at Angel Island are not forgotten, especially at a time when we are seeing increasing discrimination and attacks against Asians and other immigrant groups.
The 2020 Spirit of Angel Island award will acknowledge the dedication and service of California State Park Interpreter, Casey Dexter-Lee. For the past 20 years, Casey has worked on Angel Island, teaching the Immigration Station’s history to thousands of visitors, while also supporting the various programs and restoration efforts at the site.
In the same spirit, the young artists at DFES are using sound and images to communicate their ideas and emotions and inspire action and movement towards a more just society. The Breaking Barriers” assembly on Monday, January 13 with composer/bassist Marcus Shelby marked the 25th anniversary Martin Luther King Jr. holiday by kicking off the fifth annual Blake Mini Library Book Drive led by the DFES student council to benefit homeless children in San Francisco. Students gathered at lunch time to process books donations by writing special notes of encouragement for future readers. The 2020 Blake Mini Library Breaking Barrier’s collection was created based on community donations and student reading recommendations.
Lunchtime origami workshops were also held to teach children how to fold tsuru, paper cranes symbolizing peace, compassion, hope and healing. In the traditional Japanese folk art of paper folding (origami), the crane is a popular, easy-to-learn figure that children and adults of all abilities can create. At lunchtime, working together until our last day of gathering on the schoolyard, the children folded hundreds of cranes of all sizes and colors, in response to a call to action by Tsuru for Solidarity. All can contribute to the project which aims to fold 525,000 cranes, equalling the number of immigrants incarcerated annually. A community gesture to show that immigrant children, youths, families and other detainees seeking safety in our country will not be forgotten.
The Angel Island Project at Dianne Feinstein Elementary School was made possible by an Artist and Communities in Partnership – Creative Youth (ACIP-CY) grant from the San Francisco Arts Commission.
Thank you to Mara, Patrick, Angela, Cynthia and Chae for the helping hands and set up with the #meatlessmonday spread. Lion love to Dr. Zaki, the DFES PTA Board and all of the DFES families who supported this community evening of creativity.
This event was made possible by an Artist and Communities in Partnership – Creative Youth (ACIP-CY) grant from the San Francisco Arts Commission.
Today, January 20, 2020, marks the 25th anniversary of the MLK Day of Service. Observed each year on the third Monday in January as “a day on, not a day off,” MLK Day is the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service to encourage all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities.
Each year, the Blake Mini Library book drive kicks off on the MLK Day of Service, collecting through Valentine’s Day. The project encourages and supports the caring acts of children who work with their communities to collect books for the Hamilton Families shelter program here in San Francisco. This youth philanthropy effort supports the reading, writing and science literacy of children ages birth to 21 living in homes for runaways, homeless shelters and foster care. The project began in 2013, when a 6-year old boy named Blake Ansari began a book drive in New York City with the support of his family and friends.
In 2020, we invite friends and families to share acts of compassion and creativity, in celebration of the 5th annual Blake Mini Library Book Drive in San Francisco.
Learn more about the issue of homelessness and the impacts on children and finding ways to help. Baharav, H., Leos-Urbel, J., Obradovic, J., & Bardack, S. (2017). The Educational Success of Homeless and Highly Mobile Students in San Francisco Unified School District. Stanford, CA. John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities, Stanford Graduate School of Education.
Inspire children by showing that you support their efforts.
“When you listen to the community, learn from the community, and help the community, you connect to your best self”
The second of four DFES Family Art Nights with the Del Sol String Quartet’s Angel Island Project will explore the importance of storytelling and the written word through the art of bookmaking. Cheryl Ball and C.K. Itamura of Book Arts Roadshow will teach us how to make our own books, and The Del Sol String Quartet will play!
In celebration of the 8th annual Ezra Jack Keats Bookmaking Project, we’ll also consider the role that children’s books play in sharing the important stories and historical contributions of all Americans.
A light dinner is provided with the PTA meeting from 5:30pm – 6:00pm.
Thanks to an Artists and Communities in Partnership – Creative Youth Arts (ACIP-CY) grant from the San Francisco Arts Commission and the support of the Dianne Feinstein ES PTA, these family evenings with The Del Sol String Quartet and teaching artist Andi Wong will explore the history of Angel Island, capture positive cross-cultural stories and create opportunities for the school to collaborate and contribute a new work of art that will be shared at the Angel Island premiere.
“Your Wall is Our Canvas: The Angel Island Project” will bring the poems of Angel Island to life in the very space they were created. Composed by Huang Ruo, the 45-minute oratorio for string quartet and chamber choir will weave a story of immigration and discrimination of then and now. The premiere performances will occur at the Angel Island Immigration Station in October 2020.
This project is supported in part by the Hewlett Foundation 50 Arts Commissions. Additional funding has been provided by the Clarence E. Heller Charitable Foundation, the Phyllis C. Wattis Foundation, and the San Francisco Arts Commission.
The first DFES Family Art Night with the Del Sol String Quartet introduced the Angel Island Project, teaching artist Andi Wong and the members of the Del Sol String Quartet to the Dianne Feinstein ES community. The Del Sol String Quartet – Charlton Lee (viola), Kathryn Bates (cello), Ben Kreith and Sam Weiser (violin) – got the evening off to a great start with a musical introduction. Everyone, adults and children, were invited to get up on their feet for an easy stroll around the room. Listening to the music, participants were invited to making contact, with smiles, head nods, touching feet, and secret handshakes in a traveling warm up to “G Song” by Terry Riley.
Andi offered a brief introduction to the history of Angel Island. Angel Island offers an important lesson on how stories and art have helped to carry historical information forward to the future. In 1970, Ranger Alexander Weiss re-discovered the poetry carved by immigrantsinto the walls of the Angel Island Immigration Station barracks. The poems were translated and preserved in the 1980 book, Island: Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island, 1910-1940 by Mark Him Lai, Genny Lim and Judy Yung, and the Chinese-American community worked together to preserve and protect this important historical site for future generations of Americans.
Families conducted a four question oral history interview. Oral history is a field of study and a method of gathering, preserving and interpreting the voices and memories of people, communities, and participants in past events. Oral history is both the oldest type of historical inquiry, predating the written word, and one of the most modern, initiated with tape recorders in the 1940s and now using 21st-century digital technologies. Based on the responses, parents worked with their children to write a simple poem on the theme of family.
Resolute in her faith,
watching the wine dark sea. Her face
to the wind. Loving God.
Black as Night, bright as Light, she stands.
The J-H Family remembers a powerful strong woman who baked a great sweet potato pie.
We sing the family song.
We speak out Spanish language.
We visit our family in El Salvador and call.
The P-B Family remembers their family's arrival in the USA
As Del Sol performed Tenebrae by Osvaldo Golijov, the children were invited to collaborate on work of art, an evening sky mural. Golijov’s composition finds hope and wonder in a world upended by war, when he visits the New York City planetarium with his five-year-old son, who sees the earth for the very first time — a “pale blue dot” in the vast cosmos.
In closing, we shared a wonderful opportunity to conduct an oral history interview. StoryCorps “The Great Thanksgiving Listen” is a national movement that empowers young people—and people of all ages—to create an oral history of the contemporary United States by recording an interview with an elder, mentor, friend, or someone they admire using the free StoryCorps App. Interviews become part of the StoryCorps Archive at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.
Thanks to Megan Wong and Patrick Wu for helping to set up our workshop materials (heavy-lifting those giant pumpkins donated by family farmer Todd Fong of Elk Grove) and serving our Thanksgiving-themed #meatlessmonday dinner. Lion love to Dr. Salwa Zaki, Rory McMahon for the tech support and DFES PTA Board support from Angela Rosoff, Cynthia Inaba and Chae Reed. Most of all, thanks to the DFES families who helped to make this first community evening of creativity a big success.
When the event was done, those who wanted a pumpkin were welcomed to take one home to enjoy. We brought the biggest of the giant pumpkins down to Pescadero to share with Dan Sudran, founder of Mission Science Workshop and the Community Science Workshop Network. Dan introduced us to his friend Gabriel, a valued team member of Puente, who knows a lot about bees and seeds.
The best way to keep going and growing is to share the learning with others!
This event was made possible by an Artist and Communities in Partnership – Creative Youth (ACIP-CY) grant from the San Francisco Arts Commission.
2019 marked the fourth annual Blake Mini Library book drive for the Hamilton Families Shelter Program, San Francisco’s leading service provider to families experiencing homelessness. It was wonderful to receive the invaluable support of the two student councils at Dianne Feinstein Elementary School and Rooftop Alternative Pre-K-8 School.
This year’s special curated book selection explored the theme, “From darkness, into the light.” Special editions donated to this year’s book drive included the 75th anniversary edition of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince, Fred Korematsu Speaks Up (Fighting for Justice) by Laura Atkins and San Yogi, She Made a Monster: How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein by Lynn Fulton, Dorothea Lange: The Photographer Who Found the Faces of the Depression by Carole Boston Weatherford, The Wall of Birds: One Planet, 243 Families, 375 Million Years by Jane Kim and Thayer Walker and Where’s Rodney? by Carmen Bogan.
On Thursday, February 7, from 5:30pm-8pm, we hosted a special screening of Won’t You Be My Neighbor for the DFES community. The film is a very thoughtful and moving look at Fred Roger’s groundbreaking work in education, childhood and media, and the screening gave parents a wonderful opportunity to consider the impact of acts of kindness towards children. Blake Ansari, the young founder of Blake Mini Library, was six years old when he hosted his first book drive for homeless children and children in foster care in New York. Blake loves to read and wants other kids to have the opportunity to enjoy reading too.
We were especially grateful that children’s book author/illustrator Ashley Wolff was able to stop by Dianne Feinstein to lead “Kindness, Kids & Kritters,” a special art workshop that taught students how to draw the two DFES school mascots. Leona the Lion and Edwin the Panda couldn’t be more different, but, like Ashley, these two friends share a special love of books and reading. Ashley kindly created a special poster for the 2019 book drive.
After her visit, Ashley asked Blake if he had a favorite animal. What a wonderful surprise to receive Ashley’s special act of kindness a few days later… a brand new logo created especially for Blake Mini Library featuring the fastest land animal on Earth — the amazing cheetah!
Thank you to all our friends and neighbors who helped to make the 2019 Blake Mini Library book drive such a special and speedy delivery!