From Pacific Shores to Columbia River Banks

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Clark County Historical Museum’s 2022 Speaker Series continues on Thursday, April 14, with “From Pacific Shores to Columbia River Banks: Historical Traces of the Chinese Community in Vancouver, Washington” presented by historian, Dr. Xiuyu Wang, in partnership with Music Fusian NW. The event will occur in-person at the Clark County Historical Museum. Doors open at 5 p.m. and the event begins at 7 p.m.

Since the late 19th century, Chinese immigrants to Vancouver and Clark County in Washington have contributed to community life in various ways, creating a legacy that has remained poignant but also sparsely documented and imperfectly known. While different immigration journeys to Vancouver reflected broader shifts in national immigration policies and international relations, the immigrants themselves often had to rely on personal initiative and family resources in settling into business, labor, industry, service, education, and other sectors. No two stories were exactly alike in this process of community adaptation and growth, but all reflected some form of fusion between Asian and American lifeways.

“The community is where much of the heritage is embedded, so involvement and partnership from the public are very important for the identification, preservation, and interpretation of this history,” says Dr. Wang. “It goes beyond self-discovery alone. It’s about affirming cultural difference as part of building up community unity and strength in a more informed way.”

This presentation offers glimpses of individual stories in their regional and international contexts based on materials from the Clark County Historical Museum and other sources. In recognition that many more facets of this history remain scattered in the community, this presentation is intended both as a catalyst and an invitation for more community-driven discussions and connections around this local heritage going forward.

“This will be the first time the stories of Chinese immigrants from this region are told. I hope it will be the first of many more to come.” said founder and president of Music Fusian NW, “This event will bring together two academic disciplines, humanities, and music, to tell the stories of Chinese immigrants. Hai Bi, a well-known guzheng musician in the Portland metropolitan area will collaborate with us and present music as an element of the presentation”.

Xiuyu Wang is Associate Professor of History at Washington State University, where he teaches courses on China and East Asia. His early life and education in Shandong Province coincided with China’s first two decades of reform. After immigrating to the US in the 1990s, he pursued studies in intercultural communication and journalism before earning a doctorate in modern Chinese history at Carnegie Mellon. Dr. Wang’s research focuses on China’s late imperial and modern ethnic history.

Music Fusian NW is a 501(c)(3) non-profit based in Vancouver and will partner with the Clark County Historical Museum and Dr. Xiuyu Wang to present the stories and legacy of the Chinese immigrants in Clark County.

Funding for the evening’s event comes in part from Humanities Washington. The CCHM Speaker Series is sponsored by the Clark County Historic Preservation Commission and Versa Events (formerly Wager Audio). General admission is $5; seniors and students are $4; children under 18 are $3; and the evening is free for CCHM members, veterans, and active-duty military personnel.

Attendees are encouraged to arrive early, as seating is limited and available on a first-come-first-served basis.

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