The Promise of Gold Mountain: Tucson's Chinese Heritage

Esther Don Tang's Thoughts

On The Chinese Community Today

"I see a great change in the school situation today. My son and daughters, my nieces and nephews by and large participate in all school functions. They date students not of Chinese origin, and have married out of their race. This was not always the case. In the 1940's, my parents put a down payment on a house in the Belmont subdivision. The next day there was obscene writing, letting us know that Chinese were not wanted there. Today, the Chinese live all over Tucson. My own family is something like a United Nations: our son has a Polish wife, and our daughters married a Irishman and a Portuguese.

I believe that our Chinese youth have equal, if not better opportunities than other ethnic groups. This has come about through a tradition that emphasizes excellence in education, performance, and positive attitude. Chinese parents continually plan financially for their children's education.

In celebrations, the Chinese community comes together. Otherwise, families carry out their own work and activities integrated into the general community workplace and community organizations.

There is still a Ying On Benevolent Society which cares and houses the eldest members of the community. The extended family still is very important. Relatives coming from the homeland are usually given jobs by their family or relatives, or recommended to friends. With the mobility of society and job opportunities elsewhere, families do separate, but the strong ties continue to exist, and visits are frequent. Concern for family members do not diminish with distance.

I believe the future of the Chinese in Tucson is as good as any other group. In fact, they are probably better off in Tucson than many places since they have all the advantages any other citizen has. The Chinese population will continue to grow with newcomers from Taiwan and the mainland. The approximate number today is 3000 individuals representing 500 families. However that does not count the students and trainees who come to Tucson."

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On Tucson's Future and the Importance of Public Service

"Of course Tucson has changed from a small pueblo of a few thousand. Then everybody knew everyone. Doors were never locked. The air was clean, we swam in irrigation ditches, the traffic was not congested, water was not a problem, crime occurred infrequently (well, except when Dillinger came to town!)

Now I walk down the street and strangers wonder when I arrived by slow boat. We can't stop growth and progress, but we need planning and solutions to water pollution, air quality, education, crime and access to medical assistance, especially for the elderly. I'll always love Tucson, no matter what. My hopes for Tucson are the solutions for these problems. Hopefully our governments will resolve them with commitment to the community's future -- and not through political pressure or greed.

My parents taught us early that the community is an extension of our home. We never stop caring and helping our family, no matter how much they go astray. And so it is, as long as I can walk and talk I will give my time and energy to public service -- to preserve and to insure the possible best for my family and all of Tucson."

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