Travel back in time to San Francisco in the 1840's. You will take part in a meeting of one of the Six Companies that serves the needs of Chinese immigrants to California. In China, California was known as Gold Mountain. Each of you will be given a worker "residence certificate" required by the U S government which you must keep with you at all times. Your current job will be listed on the certificate. You will need to research the nature of your job, and report to the company. New Chinese workers are arriving in San Francisco, and you have some American job experience to share with them. You may also want to explore better job opportunities and make decisions about your future. Other immigrants will listen to your report and make career and living choices based on what you say.
The resources you need are almost all on the Internet. Many of the sites you will visit on the Internet are all included in the lesson. Your teacher has a separate list of these sites if you need one. You will need an atlas. Another good resource is Journey to Gold Mountain: The Chinese in 19th Century America (The Asian American Experience) by Rebecca Stefoff, and Ronald Takaki.
You will receive two grades, one for the work you do by yourself and one for group work.
The United States is a nation made up of immigrants. Each group has added something special to our society. Most groups blended in to some degree after a time to make the "American people". For people of color, blending into the majority was much more difficult. It was easy to blame the problems of the economy on a minority who looked different. When you work on this unit, keep in mind that Chinese-Americans for many, many years could not be citizens, could not marry outside their race, could not send their children to public schools, could not own property, or vote. Would you stay in a country that treated you this way? Why were Chinese immigrants singled out for such treatment? What was happening in the rest of the country that might have encouraged this treatment? Can a person be treated the same way today? Which laws protect American workers who are not white from paying special taxes or receiving less pay?
Now you will go to the Internet. Your teacher may give you a copy of this worksheet to complete.
Kathleen Danzey Cohen
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