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now welcome to silkscreen programs about the lives and experiences of asian americans i'm robert siegel in nineteen seventy eight after over thirty years of called war diplomacy the united states normalized its relations with the people's republic of china since then the number of us visitors to china has increased dramatically among the most eager to visit the country are chinese americans for the first time they have an opportunity to see and experience for themselves the land of their origins many have relatives their uncles aunts cousins and grandparents when they have never met the following film is bye felicia lowe a young chinese american who made the journey to china in search of their family roots whoa in the spring of nineteen thirty a low winter
sun a young man at twenty packed his bags and said goodbye to his family and home in the same district between time county in the southern province of guangdong china he was headed for america where he hoped to build a better light revolution in china was under way it was a tumultuous period culminating in the founding of the first nineteen forty nine like many chinese immigrants will wince and came under an assumed name their discovery and possible deportation kept him from talking about his path and felicia lowe i was born in america flowing son was my father when he died i realized that very little i knew about his life in china about china itself it became clear to me that if i want my son benjamin to learn of his heritage i needed to go to china to see the land of my father this is
ultimately there and i was going to go see you're going to lose money at another politician one of your grandfather's that the one china where my mother's mother is eighty five years old i'd never met any of my grandparents they died before i was born but i was determined to meet michael colby force against on i was also anxious to move my two uncles and aunts who live in the very same house my father grew up when the opportunity came from detroit mich more to china working journalist i jumped at the chance even though i was not sure if i could visit my family it was worth the chance that it might happen the flight from california their home contents about fourteen hours we lose a day with the time change in air travel so we stay in hong kong overnight to recuperate from the long flight
raise the chinese border is not far away it takes only three hours to get to go to a bike trade in these first images of the chinese countryside a surprisingly familiar the lush green fields remind me of california's sacramento delta and the many summers i'd spent there the child and you stand for the first time why so many times that it was just like home we're making one job by our hosts from chin wah news agency i tell them how much i would like to see my family they say it might be possible but not yet yes as long the news correspondent from the local office comes from the same district as my family and she even offers to make unnecessary travel arrangements since she accompanies us to our next stop i have an opportunity to get to know her
well and is considered the most scenic spot in all of china and i wonder if any of my family has seen the unusual limestone mountains that rise out of the green playing for thousands of years chinese well it's an artistic memorialize the city we take a leisurely journey down the winding river i'm truly staggered by the spectacular beauty that surrounds me i know my father would have liked this place in china's official languages into law with a common language it's a derivative of mandarin the majority of the population speaks to john robert gates region has its own dialect making most chinese bilingual my problem is that i speak a limited cantonese and i can't understand a word from the direct sound entirely different from my years my chinese name in cantonese is pronounced low when searle that in true to life it has a more romantic pronunciation of new
faces in our group travels north eleven hundred miles hear everyone speak to to long i try to learn some simple phrases and it seems no matter how badly john sound the effort or been killed in a us no idea another day it sure did help to
have an interpreter it seemed that people were as curious about me as i was of them when they see all these people needed a faith and american ended at a chinese the new campus here's my father and my mother were born in china and when they were twenty years old making the oven was use sentences and it was the whole thing there's a warmth here a genuine interest in me that i've never experienced before and perhaps some of them had relatives who left china as my father did and talking to me makes them feel closer to chinese americans
but more than that i feel their friendliness reflects their sense of unity among all chinese people in china is opening its doors to force for the first time in thirty years this is straining the country's transportation and hotel facilities it's clear that the country's not yet ready for tourism but is gearing up for its tourism is expected to help the economy and our next stop is beijing the nation's capital by now the group has traveled over fifteen hundred miles by planes and trains or train rides are a welcome change to the fast pace of which we've been moving it gives my traveling companion to myself a moment to breathe and take in the scenery of this vast country boys got to stay in your analysis speaking
this week the trio was jailed and it was just nice to have touched many are seeing a continual growth for china's one of the oldest continuous civilizations on earth and nowhere like you have more than a year it's really incredible the first sections of the law were built in the fifth century bc as i stand here looking at the waltz making three thousand miles across the tops of the mountains i think about the richness of china's past and i'm filled with trying to put this to support my heritage know china today is quite different from the china my father knew as a boy there's an air of excitement and optimism for the future people seemed sincere in their commitment to see new china realize its goal of
modernization this commitment requires that everyone was not too old or too sick works and this has led to a highly developed child care system for childcare facilities are usually provided by one's place of work he had a commune in the countryside or a factory in the city versus taking guns from two months of age since mothers in china are expected to return to work at that time as i see these children i think of my son jackie was born i personally had a hard time deciding when i should go back to work and an even harder time finding adequate childcare i wonder working mothers in china feel if i do i'm certain i can get these answers from a contemporary someone will talk honestly about the realities of a woman's life in china
finished by love i find her at the institute of journalism in beijing our group held a discussion with the students who are training to be foreign correspondents win some day you asked how you women combined family history and i knew i had found my soul mate like me so is married has one child and is in her thirties i asked her how she felt leaving her son since and in childcare i remember way defers merits the internet he had gotten in getting there i cried and just turned away from the cement house think it away they're so it you know they didn't that's it
oh my soul and then one night i went there to be still a window he cried and cried and as i want i want my i love my guess right now that is adjusted to the school system to the kindergarten i satisfied with where it would be education that is getting generally speaking i'm satisfied to trying to teach my son that i have more leisure time it to myself i am i teaching my thumb and that means is it difficult for women in china to confine both careers and family it's is it the case now there is very hard and difficult for
women because when they return home they had to do a lot of house wet cooking washing and attack here that nowadays may have set out soundbite of ad homeless one room with kitchen in their shared by two other families they pay about three dollars a month for this place this includes the cost of electricity and running water which are convenience is not yet found in every chinese home at a television is a luxury i'm told only one out of thirty five families on one but it's likely that this luxury may find its way into home sooner than other modern conveniences the food budget works out to about ten dollars per person per month and childcare costs a little more than
ten dollars on a combined income set up to ninety dollars a month the fact that they have only one child gets them more financial cushion in many families still like it's not easy for a woman combining family and career when you can you tell me in the society today that what the priorities are in your life you pass what led by campaign to line up against him to know how to build out its own word of the family shifted because we feel if the country becomes stronger and the family's life for this that put the family in a secondary position but i don't think its <unk> second position i think it's very
important very important there's no one thing over the evidence and this cow that's what wasn't working when it finally what is it that you hope for your son's future how let's go finally the time has arrived for me to try to see my family in johnson county pantry or word this one has made the arrangements for the visit joey's son is only fifty miles south of long show but it takes time to cross all the waterways by perry i'm sure my father across the
same rivers and tributaries forty years earlier when he left the area and were taken by this eerie scene so far we've stopped in many cities the majority of the population lives in the countryside so it seems more like the real china to see people actually working in the fields their faces look hauntingly familiar they look like the chinese people in america but where in different clothing the reason is simple island more than ninety percent of the early immigrants come from the southern province as we know she misses wong suggests we stop by a hotel force but i want to press on to my grandmother's swan insist we stop what she knew and hadn't told me was that my uncles and aunts were waiting for asparagus hey audie the picture i'd
brought of my old boy son is at least ten years old but i recognized his smile right away he was the youngest of the four children then came a good dancer and my aunts you he my father with the elders and the only one left the country they asked right away about their brother wayside and he's fine i say this is not the moment to tell them up there jamie i'm really surprised if we tried it all tammy grandma up on china just waiting on the house is only five minutes away it was built by my grandfather's sixty years ago my dad grew up here who played in the streets we walk up these very same stairs it was a strange and wonderful feeling to be retracing his steps
many many the plan i cannot describe what those first few moments were like words sometimes get in the way of human emotions we looked intensely at each other i ask she says yes their pictures
on the last for the first time i see a photograph of my grandfather i'm told he lived in america fourteen years and there are pictures of my great grandparents but what shocks me the most is seeing pictures of myself on the war photographs of me for my infancy to college graduation my father had been sending all these years so that's what it means to have a granddaughter i never knew i had no idea she cared for me or was interested in my childhood or wondered what kind of person i would turn out to be up to that moment he'd been just a picture of a little old lady and the ten thousand miles away and it felt great that i got photographs of my own to give to the family these visual links to my life in america sparked a lot of questions mostly about the welfare of relatives in the states that always they are asking about my father and i find myself if he were still alive graham arrived in good condition for her age
she suffers from arthritis and have a hearing loss that she has sharp she knows exactly what is going on and we talk about my father when he was a young boy growing up here you get the idea i ask her if she remembers this piece of jade she'd given it to my father for good luck when he left china he passed it on to me she does remember there's so much for us to say to one another yet the words don't always come easily still i feel something special is happening between us in spite of tv ad by now the kitchen is a flurry of activity and the rest of the family is preparing a feast in celebration rv plant always on his headset cooking is left with a person comes home from work i feel is at home
with my family if they do with the emotions of the kind shared by people belonged to one and the same family i think it's something in born an indestructible so that night as things quiet down i finally tell an uncle and aunt about my father they say be better for grandma not to know i respect their judgment she is the county seat of johnson county with a population of one hundred thousand in the next day my aunt and my cousin wing give me toward the major industries here are machine manufacturing and food was told to not have a fever and so every day is marketing the streets are full of back by selling as money is exchanged i noticed ration coupons accompany the focus of certain staples such as grain soil and this is the government's way of insuring no one consumed too much and no one goes without yes we can
i'm pleased to see that my family lives relatively well they are healthy and have a decent home since they live together of my uncles their wives my five cousins and my grandmother they're able to pool their resources on knowing that they're doing ok makes me feel better about saying goodbye i'm grateful i had the chance to laugh and touch my family and tell them that we live in america are also all right i think it was my grandmother and as i start to say goodbye my grandmother happy inside with another piece of jade and she said i've waited a long time to understand it may be a matter of time it is
the policy it's all a whole barrel increase in the time these eleven people had changed my life i knew that i had experienced something the competence and only about my path of the people and other countries to sunscreen on far away
if beak has been in the past i was watching the all white is on the arm are all oh it'll be a parsi are all on a yard sleep at all this folk song says it so well will or there should be a stranger who asked me what place is these i would tell him with pride like oh lord lord to all be able to
call your true or do you are at all the key year dion here on podcast louis ortiz years girl law blog called orange cotton ball recent immigration figures also show a sharp rise in the number of immigrants coming to the united states from the people's republic of china parents and children brothers and sisters are once again being reunited after decades without contact we hope you enjoyed our program thank you for joining us this is
just this is an
Silk Screen
Episode Number
China, Land of My Father
Contributing Organization
Center for Asian American Media (San Francisco, California)
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Episode Description
This item is part of the Chinese Americans section of the AAPI special collection.
Episode Description
Documentary that follows Chinese American Journalist Felicia Lowe on her journey to discover her Chinese roots. Lowe interviews women about their lives, cost of living, careers and childcare. Lowe reconnects with relatives where her Father had grown up.
Broadcast Date
KQED 1979
Media type
Moving Image
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Producer: Lowe, Felicia
AAPB Contributor Holdings
Center for Asian American Media
Identifier: cpb-aacip-15b6db232de (Filename)
Format: videocassette
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Chicago: “Silk Screen; 103; China, Land of My Father,” 1983-03-08, Center for Asian American Media, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 10, 2023,
MLA: “Silk Screen; 103; China, Land of My Father.” 1983-03-08. Center for Asian American Media, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 10, 2023. <>.
APA: Silk Screen; 103; China, Land of My Father. Boston, MA: Center for Asian American Media, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from