The Immigrants of California

Op-Ed: What Asian immigrants, seeking the American dream, found in Southern California suburbs

By Kim Eun-jin, Korea Times

Updated: October 13, 2013 — 2:58 AM

Photo of the day: A man and teenage boy on a bicycle in Riverside, Calif., where Chinese emigres began to settle in the mid-1930s. (John Buckner/The Star-Ledger)

Wendy Chan is a professor of Chinese history at the University of California, Riverside.

She came to southern California from Hong Kong in 1965. She never forgot the moment she first saw the hills and palm trees in Riverside. It was during a trip to the United States to take a class on how to study the history of Chinese culture abroad.

The class members were mostly young ladies and old men, not yet a part of the immigrant community, which would reach its peak in the 1970s and 80s.

They studied the culture of China, which Wendy called “a culture in chaos,” that was dominated by the Manchus, the dynasty that led the Qing dynasty and had ruled China for more than two millennia until 1911.

In that era, China was ruled by Manchu families, who were descendants of a Mongol warlord known as Genghis Khan who reigned in 1368 to 1405.

Wendy Chan. (Courtesy of the author)

Even though Wendy’s parents were immigrants from Hong Kong, they were able to get into the class because they had at least one degree, and so they felt they were eligible to attend.

“My dad thought that because he was a doctor, he qualified,” she recalled.

Wendy’s dad was a doctor who worked at a local hospital. When her parents moved to the United States in 1959, he was recruited by a hospital in Los Angeles to work in emergency medicine, which he did for six years before he got married and had two children, before returning to his family in Hong Kong.

After graduating from high school in Hong Kong, Wendy studied law at the University of Hong Kong and then transferred her studies to California.

At her first work at the California law school, she met a girl who was studying Chinese.

The girl was also a first-generation immigrant to southern California, and had come to Los Angeles from Hong Kong in 1965. She was a third-generation immigrant and

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