We hope that you will enjoy sharing this film with friends, family, or any organizations that might be interested the power of kindness, empathy and community. Please feel free to use this invitation HERE.
We also invite you to join ArtsEd4All for a community conversation about sharing SIMPLE GIFTS of creativity and kindness this holiday season on Saturday, November 14that 4:00 pm PT / 7:00 pm ET.
Made in response to the times we are living in, THE ANTIDOTE is a feature documentary that weaves together stories of kindness and decency in America—a choral essay about people who are making intentional choices to lift others up. Directed by Academy Award-nominee, Kahane Cooperman, and six-time Emmy winner, John Hoffman, THE ANTIDOTE aims to drive a national conversation about the roles that kindness, decency, compassion and respect play in a civilized, democratic society.
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
ArtsEd4All invites you to join a special screening of THE ANTIDOTE on Saturday, October 24th, beginning at 3:30pm PST / 6:30pm EST. After the film, please join us for a community conversation about kindness, education and the arts.
Made in response to the times we are living in, THE ANTIDOTE is a feature documentary that weaves together stories of kindness and decency in America—a choral essay about people who are making intentional choices to lift others up, despite fundamental unkindnesses that exist in our society.
Directed by six-time Emmy Award-winner John Hoffman and Academy Award-nominee Kahane Cooperman, THE ANTIDOTE tells stories of compassionate people intentionally leveraging the resources of their communities to give others a chance at a better life. THE ANTIDOTE isn’t about an idea or a policy; it is about bringing people into a healthy relation with each other, listening to their wants and desires, respecting their boundaries, and treating them with dignity.
“If ever there was a time for inclusivity in education.”
Research links kindness to a wealth of physical and emotional benefits. And it’s an excellent coping skill for the Covid-19 era. Take a minute to revel in a world brimming with kindness in #BeTheAntidote theantidotemovie.com
Kindness is contagious.
If you have a friend that you would like to recognize for their acts of kindness, please send them a postcard and invite them to watch #THEANTIDOTE on Saturday, October 24th at 3:30pm PST.
In 2020, as San Franciscans wear face masks and shelter in place to keep each other safe during the coronavirus pandemic, schools and families are supporting students through long distance learning. The video footage for ONE DAY IN SF, submitted six years ago by the ArtsEd4All community, to represent a day in the life of San Franciscans in 2014 has become a poignant reminder that perhaps we should revisit these ten questions once again.
The success of ONE DAY ON EARTH led to the “Your Day. Your City. Your Future.” initiative that focused on harnessing the power of a 24 hour filming event locally. Four years later, on April 26th, 2014, hundreds of filmmakers, non-profit organizations, and inspired citizens were invited to join ONE DAY IN SF to document stories that most affect the future of San Francisco as part of a city-wide, participatory media-creation event. The resulting media was showcase in an interactive, geo-tagged archive.
Participants were invited to explore ten questions for the future of your city.
One Day in San Francisco – April 26, 2014
Your Day. Your City. Your Future. launched with 11 US cities on April 26, 2014, leveraging the power of hyper-local storytelling and the medium of film to capture and archive authentic, compelling narratives in urban areas. Students and their families were invited to participate by recording and sharing video of their one day for the project.
The students in Ms. Contreras’ sixth grade class at Rooftop share their plans for Saturday, April 26, 2014. Written and Illustrated responses by Ms. Contreras’ sixth graders at Rooftop Alternative K-8 School.
Turning the pages of history to set context for the passage of time on April 26, 2014. School days as depicted in the Twin Peaks School publicity books of the 20’s & 30’s, and the student-created yearbooks for Rooftop School in the 70’s & 80’s.
A morning drive down Ellis Street, en route to the luggage store annex at 509 Ellis Street. In the gallery window, artist Dustin Fontenot’s tiny washing machine is spinning. Chatting with Jackie, a resident of Ellis Street, as she sweeps the sidewalk clean in front of the Luggage Store Annex.
Capturing a quiet morning in the Tenderloin National Forest, an on-going project of luggage store gallery. One of the very few open spaces in a high density neighborhood of over 40,000 culturally and ethnically diverse residents, Tenderloin National Forest is surrounded by multi-story residential buildings and hotels that house formerly homeless, immigrant individuals and families, as well as seniors, artists, active drug users, dealers and others. The Tenderloin Children’s Playground is situated directly across the street.
5th Grader Stella conducts a weekend experiment on the corner of Post and Lyon streets. She uses her Flip cam to document what happens at the corner. Look. Listen. STOP.
The Smiths say that the best part of Saturday is soccer. The girls take to the South Sunset Playground soccer field, where they give a cheer for their team, the Rooftop Wranglers.
The Vazquez family and friends throw a block party on April 26, 2014. The neighborhood children come out to enjoy face painting, music, and an egg toss on a bright, breezy day on Madrid Street.
Fifth Grader Nathan takes a trip to Fort Funston.
On Saturday, April 26th, the San Francisco Giants hosted the Cleveland Indians at AT&T Park to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of 1954 World Series championship, a four game sweep over the favored Indians by the New York Giants. The Series is perhaps best-remembered for “The Catch”, a sensational running catch made by Giants center fielder Willie Mays in Game 1. The first 30,000 to enter the park struck gold, receiving a replica of the 1954 World Series ring. To mark the occasion, the “Say Hey Kid,” escorted 3-year old Cody Harrington of Oakland to the field to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. Harrington waved at the cameras as Sergio Romo signed his ball. The ballpark was filled with a new generation of “Say Hey” kids slamming home runs, rounding the bases, and rooting for the home team.
“I believe the day will come when all God’s children, from bass black to treble white, will be significant on the Constitution’s keyboard.” Words etched in stone beside the cascading waters of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Yerba Buena Gardens.
There is a prompt that is sometimes used to help students to refocus when there is too much chatter in a classroom. The teacher will get the class attention by saying the words “Peace and…,” letting the sounds of the words hang in the air a bit. In unison, the students will complete the phrase. “Quiet.” Sometimes this needs to happen a few times before the classroom gets quieted back down.
The piano comes up from the depths, in preparation San Francisco Symphony’s performance of Tchaikovsky’s Pathéthique at Davies Symphony Hall on April 26, 2014. The Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Op. 74, Pathétique is Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s final completed symphony. The composer led the first performance in Saint Petersburg on October 2, 1893, nine days before his death.
7:00pm – 10:00pm – Blade, the Rooftop Rock Band, takes the stage to sing “Alien Nation” at The Battle of the Bands at the Contemporary Jewish Museum on April 26, 2014. Blade features Kiran on lead vocals, Jared on lead guitar, Andy on electric guitar, Ben on electric bass, and Liam on drums. The band is supported by Rooftop parent / Blue Bear School of Music instructor Mike Rao.
“One Day on Earth” – The 10th Anniversary Screening
ONE DAY ON EARTH is the first film made in every country of the world on the same day — October 10, 2010. The United Nations and over 60 non-profit organizations participated, and they collectively created over 3000 hours of video, an interactive geo-tagged archive, as well as a groundbreaking feature film. It has been decade since the 10/10/10 global filming! Yes, the world is wildly different… but also not.
Join ONE DAY ON EARTH Director Kyle Ruddick and producer Brandon Litman, as they take a peek into the time capsule.
What: One Day on Earth 10th Anniversary Screening with live interactive commentary from the Filmmakers and Q and A following.
When: Live TODAY – SATURDAY, OCTOBER 10, 2020 – Introduction 4:45pm PT, screening starts at 5pm PT (7:45pm ET / 8pm ET). We will post a replay link shortly after the screening.
Please note that this link will only be available between 7 AM ET – 3 AM ET.
The special screening will address current wildfires that are threatening the safety and livelihood of many of the same communities featured in the film and honor first responders. After the credits, see a special message from retired firefighter Ken Pimlott.
TIP: Let the film load before pressing play if you are experiencing poor video quality.
About REBUILDING PARADISE
On the morning of Nov. 8, 2018, a devastating firestorm engulfed the picturesque city of Paradise, California. By the time the Camp Fire was extinguished, it had killed 85 people, displaced 50,000 residents and destroyed 95% of local structures. It was the deadliest U.S. fire in 100 years — and the worst ever in California’s history. REBUILDING PARADISE, from Academy Award-winning director RON HOWARD, is a moving story of resilience in the face of tragedy, as a community ravaged by disaster comes together to recover what was lost and begin the important task of rebuilding.
بنیآدم اعضای یک پیکرند که در آفرينش ز یک گوهرند Human beings are members of a whole, since in their creation they are of one essence. — Saadi Shirazi
Slow Marathon 2020: Under One Sky is a collaborative artwork supported by Deveron Projects, based in Huntly, a market town in the north east of Scotland with a population of 4,500. The Slow Marathon is an annual walking event, which Deveron Projects co-concepted with Ethiopian artist Mihret Kebede in 2012. Celebrating the human pace, it is both an endurance event as well as a poetic act, that brings together friendship, physical activity and an appreciation of our varied landscape. Before responding to the pandemic, this year’s Slow Marathon was initially planned for Saturday, June 13 as a 26 mile /42 km walk.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Iman Tajik, a Glasgow based artist and photographer originally from Iran, re-imagined the annual event as one of global solidarity through collective participation. Borders and the movement of freedom are his key subject matters – influenced by his personal experience of crossing borders. Through the Under One Sky project, artist Iman Tajik is forging a digitally collaborative relationship with many walkers across the world. He is collecting photos of the sky that people see when they look up while walking, and these images will be brought together in a massive artwork, created by all of the participants.
Our current climate adopts an increasing fear of the outsider into our lives and homes. Some of our politician’s rhetoric about Covid-19 being a ‘foreign virus’; subsequent border closures – they all play into existing xenophobia. The virus however, doesn’t acknowledge borders. A pandemic affected us all. So, what can we do to show that we all live under one sky?
An open invitation, sharing Iman’s poetic goal to walk around the world, was put out via social media calling for Global Slow Marathon participants. Together, we would walk 40,075 km / 22,091 miles, equaling the circumference of the Earth.
The Skywalker FAM
On July 9, 2020, a trio of friends who enjoy a daily walk around their respective Bay Area neighborhoods accepted the Global Slow Marathon invitation. Flo Oy Wong, Andi Wong and Mara Grimes dubbed their walking group, The Skywalker FAM. They were soon joined by Maggy, Antigone, Jan, Margaret and Anna Maria, along with other friends who have pledged to walk soon. If you would like to join the project, we welcome your participation. Walk only once or walk daily – as you wish. You can snap a photo of the sky and send us your image and mileage and we will add your individual contribution to our total Skywalker FAM mileage.
To date, The Skywalker FAM has collectively walked 182.10 miles (or 7.0 marathons) and we’ve taken hundreds of photos on our daily walks to be shared as a record of our collective journey. By agreeing to walk together, we’ve taken time for ourselves and each other to practice “social connection.”Each day, we venture out to gaze at the skies overhead, remembering to express our wonder and gratitude for the things that keep us moving.
So far, 315 walkers from over 40 different countries have walked 37176.66 kilometre — and the project is fast approaching 49 million footsteps together, 95% of our journey around the Earth.
A walk isn’t always a walk! We hope that everyone can join us, whether that’s on two legs, less or more, or on wheels. It’s not about how many miles, km or metres we cover individually, it’s about what we achieve together.
The Skywalker FAM appreciates that the Global Slow Marathon 2020: Under One Sky, as re-imagined by artist Iman Tajik, has given us an opportunity to be socially connected through walking, even as we are called to shelter in place. Cumulatively, mile by mile, we wend our human trail across the surface of our planet and through as many borders as we can.
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.
February 21st is International Mother Language Day, which was established to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. The United Nations states, “At least 43% of the estimated 6000 languages spoken in the world are endangered. Only a few hundred languages have genuinely been given a place in education systems and the public domain, and less than a hundred are used in the digital world.”
National Geographic Explorer anthropologist Wade Davis coined the term ethnosphere to describe the sum total of all thoughts and dreams, myths, intuitions and inspirations brought into being by the human imagination since the dawn of consciousness. In his 2003 TED Talk, Wade points out the staggering loss of half of the languages on Earth, “What could be more lonely than to be enveloped in silence, to be the last of your people to speak your language, to have no way to pass on the wisdom of the ancestors or anticipate the promise of the children?”
Thanks to special readings by “The Last Hoisan Poets” – contemporary Chinese American poets Flo Oy Wong, Nellie Wong and Genny Lim – audiences have the opportunity to hear the sounds of the disappearing dialect that was spoken by many of the Chinese immigrants who first came to America. In the first part of the twentieth century, most of the Chinese immigrants came to America from the Pearl River Delta in China’s Guangdong region. The three poets trace their roots to China’s Toishan village, home of the Hoisan-wa (a.k.a. Toisanese/Taishanese) Chinese dialect.
Nellie read three poems: Ngoi Leng Gah Thlim, My Two Hearts (1981) (04:04); Poem for My Grandniece, Eva (2019) (12:46); Ode to Rice Crust Soup (2012) (15:39)
Flo opened with a New Year poem: Slin Nin Loy Luh, New Year Comes (2020) (19:26); followed by a poem about the family’s restaurant in Oakland Chinatown, Ai Joong Wah, Great China (2018) (20:12).
With “Song Siew, Two Hands,” (2020) (21:29), a newly written poem dedicated to her father, Gee Seow Hong, Flo invited the audience to follow her lead, as she taught the poem through gesture and call and response. To close the program, Flo and Nellie playfully demonstrated – Ah Jeong Doy, Clap Your Hands(29:11). El Gee Ngneck, Throw the Pig’s Neck (30:30), two traditional nursery rhymes that the sisters learned in childhood, growing up in Oakland Chinatown.
Watch the full Lunar New Year 2020 program by The Last Hoisan Poets: