After starting to study at Urbana Institute, the time has been passing by quickly. Through the two weeks of study, there are plenty of knowledge that I would love to highlight. The most impressive knowledge that I have learned is how powerful it was for the entire Chinese community to stay together and fight for their own rights. People fought and protested for their bigger home, Chinatown, and smaller home, the affordable housing. They stood together to fight for Chinatown to stop the market district taking over the Chinatown which is the cultural center of the Chinese American for entire North America. The CCDC, Chinese Community Development Center, played the most important role in affordable housing program which makes sure people with the low income can still live at where their ancestors used to live. I have been attracted of how the process of building an affordable housing works, especially the funding and financial obstacle. After the lecture, I learned that the government and HUD have played an crucial role in funding the affordable housing because it not only directly provide the fund, it also promote the large corporations such as Bank of America, and TransAmerica to make the investment by providing the tax credit. The corporations can make the investments to the affordable housing program, and in return, the certain portion of the tax can be exempted by the government. It is like a financial instrument that can benefit the corporation, and it can benefit the society at same time. To me, it is one of the governmental social welfare which can benefit the residents who live in downtown San Francisco even though there are much more demand than the supply.
The other interesting knowledge that I want to highlight is the history of Chinatown. I learned this history from last week’s documentary which showed me how hard it was for the first generation of Chinese immigrants to live their live in a foreign country, especially with the social unfairness and discrimination. Despite all the problems and challenges the ancestors had to face, they made their life through, and they won the rights which they deserved. I also respect the efforts that Chinese immigrants putted in to make themselves to be absorbed into the American mainstream society. In 1906, after the devastating earthquake which destroyed the old Chinatown, the Chinese immigrants decided to reconstruct the Chinatown with different appearance which contained the core of Chinese culture and could attract the American tourists at the same time. After decades of years, Chinatown had changed to what it looks like nowadays, a community with the oriental appearance that Americans imagine. Also, the different generations of Chinese American have been changing their living style along with the entire American style. I think it is fascinating that Chinese American keep the elements of both Chinese and American. In the documentary, there was a parts which talked about how Chinatown first time had the western style marching band which was consisted of all Chinese; the lady who worked for the telephone services, and she got the job because she was able to speak different Chinese dialects. All these stories have shown me the combination and mixture of different cultures, and I personally love the cultural blending.
The last thing that I love to highlight is the tour of the Chinatown and the SRO, Single Room Occupancy. This tour combines what I have mentioned above together. The tour of the Chinatown has shown me that it is time for the Chinatown to start its renovation just as it had at 1906 because society has changed rapidly, so it is important for Chinatown to change to catch the trend of the current society and to survive. After the tour and study at Chinatown, I went to the Japanese town. The differences between Chinatown and Japanese town have shocked me because Japanese town is more organized and cleaner compare to Chinatown. If I were a tour who first time came to San Francisco, and I went to both Japanese Town and Chinatown, I would definitely recommend my friends Japanese town over Chinatown. After having the interview with some owners of Chinatown’s stores, I noticed that the owners started to make changes on their own shops, but to me, this speed is not quick enough. And the tour of the SRO showed me how crucial the reality is because it is never easy to build the affordable house even with the help of the government because there are too many things and too many groups with their own interests that need to be compromised. The consequence of compromising is that the result is not always what people wanted.
What I wrote above were some thoughts and highlights that I found very interesting and inspiring.