I visited the Museum of the Chinese in America (MOCA) on October 3, 2019 in lower Manhattan. I went along with 2 of my classmates and had an enjoyable time. As we walked in, we noticed there was a gift shop called MOCA Shop by Pearl River. The store contained “curated collection of items that hold great meaning in Chinese culture, which we thought was very interesting. The museum was sectioned off into different rooms filled with educational information, pictures, and objects about the living history, heritage, culture, and diverse experiences of people of Chinese decent in the United States. MOCA’s goal is to bring about the understanding and appreciation of Chinese American history to everyone who steps foot in the door. Visitors from all over the world can connect with both past and present stories of Chinese American culture and even educates visitors about the history in the making. The first thing that immediately caught my attention at the museum was the Iron Chink in operation, ca. 1900s-1910s. As soon as you walk in you will find a picture of this machine along with the description, “The Iron Chink was a fish preparation machine marketed as a mechanical replacement for Chinese labor. The name was symbolic of anti-Chinese fears and sentiment during the era.” The picture of the man with the hundreds of fish around him caught my attention because my grandma and I used to cut and fry fish when I was younger, which brought me back to a memory of her. The Iron Chink Machine was designed in 1903 by US inventor A.K. Smith. He build a machine better than any Chinese laborer which beheaded, split, and gutted salmon in a steady process. This machine had to butcher more piles of sockeye salmon than a Chinamen can processes by hand alone. It was the perfect fish cleaning machine that was developed to stamp out the needs for so many hired hand butchers and migrant workers. Workers could process fish 50% to 75% faster than they could by hand with this machine. Although this was a great invention, this put many Chinese laborers out of work. The second thing that caught my attention at the museum was a lady named Maggie Gee. She was a pilot, physicist, and political activist. In 1923, Maggie joined the women Airforce Service Pilots and became one of the first Chinese American women pilots. This lady caught my attention because flying in an airplane was my favorite thing to do when I was younger and I still enjoy it today. Maggie became inspired to fly because on the weekends her and her family would go to Oakland airport to watch planes take off. When WW2 broke out she was very patriotic and she wanted to know what she could do to contribute to the war effort. Maggie took an exam to become a draftsman for the US navy and worked on Mare Island. While she was there she saves up money so she could travel to Nevada and take flying lessons. She thought this was a great opportunity to serve her country and fulfill her lifelong dream of becoming a pilot. The third thing that caught my attention at the museum was a lady named Margaret Jessie Chung. She was the first known American born Chinese female physician. This lady caught my attention because I’m currently studying to become a nurse. As it stated in the museum, “She achieved recognition for her patriotic activities during World War 2- she “adopted” over 1,000 U.S. servicemen, who nicknamed her “Mom Chung,” and was known for her contribution to the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service). She was asked to treat, examine, and give medical care for 7 reserved Navy Pilots. After she examined these pilots, she cooked dinner of them in her home. This was the beginning of her long relationship with the Navy Pilots. The pilots very much appreciated her hospitality. The fourth thing that caught my attention at the museum was the invention of Chop Suey. My love for Chinese food is what drew my attention to this invention. As the description states in the museum, “excluded and stereotyped in American culture, Chinese Americans struggled to find ways of making a living. Serving Chop Suey emerged as a means to attract slumming tourist into an economically marginalized ghetto.” When the first Chinese immigrants arrived during the Gold Rush, food was their main link back to the homeland. Many of the immigrants operated restaurants wherever they settled. It was told that a group of drunken white miners were demanded to be fed. The chef threw together whatever scraps he had, drowned it in thickened sauce, and served it to the miners. Surprisingly they actually loved it and that is how Chop Suey came about. Now Chop Suey is a staple on Chinese restaurant menus. The statue of Lin Ze Xu stands in Chatham Square in Chinatown, New York City. Lin Ze Xu was a Chinese scholar official of the Qing Dynasty. He was well known for his role in the First Opium War of 1839-1842. He was known to have a firm stance which the Chinese considered as a role model for moral governance. Lin Ze Xu was blamed for China’s defeat and exiled to the Gobi Desert. Today, he is honored as a heroic patriot who fought a war to stop illegal drugs. On June 3rd, which is the day Lin Ze Xu seized and destroyed chests of opium in 1839, is celebrated as Anti-Smoking Day in the Republic of China. I think it is appropriate for him to be honored in this way. Statues are used as a remembrance of a special particular person and serves as a constant reminder that this person was very special in history. Since Lin Ze Xu was considered a hero, what better way to honor him than erecting him in his memory for all to see in China Town, New York City. This statue was erected in 1997 as a symbol for the new generation of immigrants.
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