Read about Heritage of Hope, our Lunar New Year storytelling celebrating the immigrant experience; CW at the 4th Annual SF History Expo; and sneak peak at our exciting new project Chinese Whispers: Bay Chronicles! Meet proxy storyteller James Bahn, and SF Maritime Park Guide Kristal Ip!

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San José Museum of Art Exhibit - Closing Soon!
Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread — Rene Yung's installation in the exhibition Around the Table
December 19, 2013 through April 20, 2014
Davies Gallery, Historic Wing, 110 South Market Street, San Jose CA 95113 Phone: 408.271.6840
Museum Hours: Tues - Sunday 11am - 5pm, Closed Mondays
Admission: Adults: $8, Students & Seniors $5
Directions: ParkingDriving, Public Transit

Chinese Whispers: Bay Chronicles
Sailings and Public Programming
First two weeks of September

Stay tuned for details!

Read the Chronicle’s History Expo story with their hat-tip to CW here

about the early Chinese settlers in your community, and members of other cultures that interacted with them.


Donate $50 and get a special package with 8 cookies (random selection) from the collectible first edition of 15 Chinese Whispers Story CookiesTM ! Each cookie's "fortune" features a quote from a Chinese WhispersSM  story.

Chinese WhispersSM is a research and community storytelling project about the Chinese who helped build the railroads, mines, and settlements of the American West. It includes place-based multimedia productions that engage local communities in recounting local stories, innovative public engagement programming, and development of an interactive online mapping platform that brings together research, geography, and storytelling. Visit for more information.

Chinese WhispersSM is supported in part by the Creative Work FundSan Francisco Arts Commission, Cal Humanities, Center for Cultural Innovation, The San Francisco Foundation,  and individual donors like you.

CW Partners
include the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, Center for Sierra Nevada Studies, Chinatown YMCA, Chinese Historical Society of America, Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation, Shaping SF, Friends of China Camp, OpenShow, & Placer Arts Council, with special thanks to Malcom Margolin and Heyday. Chinese WhispersSM is a member of the Intersection Incubator, a program of Intersection for the Arts providing fiscal sponsorship, incubation and consulting services to artists. 

Join Us
in bringing forgotten stories to light. Your tax-deductible donation will allow us to continue our innovations in community-based heritage stewardship.
Photo Credit: Susan Boeckmann, Alan Cheng, Jeff K. Lee, Kevin Lee, Louise McCune, Alan Nguyen, David Reber, Rene Yung
'Heritage of Hope' Honors Immigrant Experience

We ushered in the year of the Horse on February 8 with Heritage of Hope, our third Lunar New Year storytelling celebration in partnership with the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. Braving wind and rain to join us on board theBalcluthaa near-capacity crowd gathered in the evocative shelterdeck of the 1886 square-rigger to bask in the touching warmth of storytelling and presentations that honored the immigrant experience. In a compelling performance, CW community storytellers re-animated powerful stories from our intergenerational immigrant workshops with the Chinatown YMCA last summer. These stories of contemporary immigrant experience were threaded through with stories from earlier generations, to connect the past and the present. Mesmerizing multimedia projections added life to the storytelling and captured the humanity at the heart of these stories—which is also at the heart of the Chinese Whispers spirit.
Story contributor Ford Lee, a long-time member of the CW community who participated in the immigrant workshops as a Mentor, was in the audience. He reflected that: “Being part of the immigrant workshops was an emotional experience for me, to hear of the difficulties and hardship recent immigrants families have experienced.  It also made me proud of the Y’s role in helping these immigrant parents adjust and overcome their problems. Hearing their stories again at the Heritage of Hope event reminded me of the work we need to continue to do.”
Park Guide Krystal Ip read from her great uncle Raymond’s account of his passage through Angel Island as a teenager, excerpted from an oral history by historian Judy Yung in the upcoming second edition of Island: Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island, 1910 –1940. Park Guide David Pelfrey gave a fascinating talk about the skilled Chinese immigrants in the cannery industry—did you know that their daily quota was to pack 40,000 cans of fish? Bringing the afternoon to a close, author Arlene Goldbard spoke about cultural citizenship, and invited the audience to write down their new year’s wishes for the immigrants whose stories they just heard. We will deliver these wishes to the Y, to complete the full circle of the Heritage of Hope.

A shout out to our talented community storytellers, Park presenters, Arlene, and our stalwart volunteers, and our workshop collaborator, the Chinatown Y. Special thanks to our co-presenter, the San Francisco Maritime National Park, in our ongoing partnership to bring history to life. As people filed out from the shelterdeck into the afternoon rain, the mood was quickened by a sense of having been fortified by the stories of perseverance and hope, and the reciprocity demonstrated by our audience.

Thumbs-up to CW at SF History Expo

We joined over fifty organizations at the 2014 San Francisco History Expo to celebrate local history in the Old Mint’s stately chambers. The event teemed with history enthusiasts, including some in period dress. A non-stop stream of diverse visitors stopped by our booth and enjoyed a bonus StoryCookiesTM and red story envelopes. The unique, multi-platform CW approach that gives life to silenced histories and “tales of ordinary people” stood out so much that Chinese Whispers got special mention in the SF Chronicle!

Sailing Forth into New CW Project!

We are thrilled to launch our new project, Chinese Whispers: Bay ChroniclesSM, to retrace the overlooked history of Chinese shrimp fishing in San Francisco Bay. And we are delighted to continue our successful collaboration with the SF Maritime Park on Bay ChroniclesSM. An interdisciplinary CW creative team will chronicle sailings on the Park’s replica 19th century shrimp junk to former sites around the Bay. Stay tuned for public programming in conjunction with landings and sailing routes this September! The project will result in a transmedia installation at the Park in 2015.

Community Sustenance and the History of Place

If you haven’t ventured down to the San Jose Museum of Art yet to check out CW Director Rene Yung’s site-specific art installation “Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread,” we invite you to visit this powerful work before the exhibition closes on April 20. Riffing ironically off of its title, “Give Us This Day…” meditates on the search for sustenance by the 19th century immigrants in San Jose’s former Market St. Chinatown, which was destroyed by arson fire in 1877—and part of which was located right beneath the site of the present SJMA.

Using a bowl of rice as the cultural icon symbolizing sustenance, the installation sets up a terse dialogue between a 9 ft by 7 ft charcoal drawing of a brimming bowl of rice; a cracked and restored historic rice bowl excavated from the archaeological site; and the translucent enlargement of a historic photograph of the raging fire, which fills the gallery windows overlooking today’s downtown San Jose. A Community Wall flutters softly with myriad hand-dyed paper slips bearing visitors’ reflections on the meaning of rice and sustenance. Come add your reflections, and give a moment of silent welcome to the historic Double Happiness Bowl for its unheralded homecoming, back to the overlaid site of Market St. Chinatown.

Click here for the news story about "Give Us This Day..." on TVB USA (in Cantonese). Please contact us at if you would like to have an English transcription for the story.

Our thanks to the Market Street Chinatown Archaeology Project and its partners for ongoing collaboration and support!

CW at CAM Annual Conference

At a standing-room only session, CW Director Rene Yung presented on the strategic integration of art and civic engagement in creating public dialogue, at the recent California Association of Museums conference in Napa. With a focus on issues of immigration, the panel also included the Museum of Tolerance and Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation.

Wishing you a rejuvenating spring!

—The Chinese Whispers Team


Meet the CW Community  

Meet our growing community here! The CW Community is made up of all kinds of people spanning generations -- professionals, scholars, retirees, students, "regular folks" who joined us to bring forgotten stories to light.

James Banh is Assistant Director at RAMA, and a producer, freelance stage manager, History & English teacher, and community builder. James says:


“It’s been an absolute joy to work with Chinese Whispers and to be able to tell immigrant stories of the past and present as a proxy storyteller. The interwoven stories from “Heritage of Hope” help bring light to the spirit of hope, as well as connect all of those that are in search for sanctuary of collective minds. It has been my pleasure to celebrate the courage of those early and contemporary immigrants, and an honor to be a part of this wonderful group. RAMA looks forward to working with Chinese Whispers in the future.”

Kristal Ip is a Park Guide at the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. Here's what Kristal says about her experience as a presenter at “Heritage of Hope”:

"After observing the past few Chinese Whispers events at San Francisco Maritime, I was excited to participate this year! I had recently discovered my grand uncle’s oral history narrative of his detainment on Angel Island and I found it very moving. To be able to share it with others was not only an honor, but also a way for me to connect our family’s history with others from the San Francisco community. I had a great time collaborating with Chinese Whispers and I look forward to doing it again in the future.”


Our sincerest thanks to all of the community members who are helping to bring history to life.

Copyright © 2014 Rene Yung, All rights reserved.
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