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Opening of Chinese American Oral History Project archives attracts hundreds

June 1, 2017

By Cal State LA News Service

Hundreds of people packed the inauguration of the digital archives of the Chinese American Oral History Project at California State University, Los Angeles.

The May 31 event, held in the John F. Kennedy Memorial Library, featured audio histories and memorabilia from participants in the project. Cal State LA students have recorded 20 oral histories. Additional histories will be added to the collection. Guests listened to audio presentations and browsed through exhibit items that included black-and-white family photographs, clothing and books.

Cal State LA President William A. Covino noted the many contributions Chinese Americans have made to California and thanked the exhibit organizers and participants for their dedication and hard work.

“By sharing your personal stories, you’ve contributed to a fuller and more accurate telling of our collective history,” he said to those whose oral histories are included in the archives.

Covino shared important “hot off the press” news with the approximately 400 people at the opening. Earlier in the day, the president said, he approved a recommendation to expand the current Asian and Asian American Studies Program into a department.

The announcement prompted a loud round of applause.

Narrarators of Chinese American History Oral Project at Cal State LA.Congresswoman Judy Chu presented Certificates of Recognition to Professor Juily Phun, who oversaw the project, and the four people who volunteered to share their stories: alumnus John Chen, Margaret "Margie" Lew, Pauline Tso, and alumnus Frank Yan.

“Our stories deserve to be told,” said Chu, who represents communities served by the University. “That is the significance of the Chinese American Oral History Project.”

Added Phun: “As Cal State LA stands at the nexus of the Chinatown community and the emergent San Gabriel Valley, our University is uniquely poised to track the changes that have occurred in these two regions.”

Dean of the University Library Carlos Rodriguez shared his vision of the library as a community space and said the oral histories represent a significant addition to the facility's archives.

Dean Pamela Scott-Johnson of the College of Natural and Social Sciences also addressed the gathering. She noted the importance of the Asian and Asian American Studies Program in her college and thanked everyone for attending.

Photos: Top, An attendee browsing through the exhibit featuring the Asian American Oral History Project at Cal State LA. Bottom, John Chen, Pauline Tso, Margaret "Margie" Lew, Rep. Judy Chu, Professor Juily Phun, Frank Yan, and President William A. Covino. (Credit: J. Emilio Flores/Cal State LA)

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