Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation

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Delevett, Kim : Finding My Way Home by Kim and Peter Delevett
Year of Arrival 1975

Phan Kim Phuong, who came to the U.S. as a child in April 1975 when Saigon fell to the Communists, recounts her journey back to Vietnam.  In an emotional turn of events, she revisits her home town and finds long-lost relatives who have kept her memory alive despite years of separation.

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Der, David : Dr. Der's Story of Immigration and Community Service by Grant Din
Year of Arrival 1939

AIISF supporter Dr. David Der has been named a Local Hero by the Federation of Chinese American and Chinese Canadian Medical Societies (FCMS) for his many years of service to the Asian immigrant community in the greater Oakland area. He left Kaiping, in Guangdong province, in 1939 to escape the war, and passed through Angel Island. Read his story about coming to America, growing up in Oakland, how he got into medicine, and the many community organizations he volunteered with and helped found at FCMS's website.

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Der, Gwing : Memories of Centenarian Gwing Der (aka Der Nea Yick & Nelson Der) by Nancy F. Fong, Dorothy Fong, and Sandra Tye
Year of Arrival 1926

The following narrative was culled from previous interviews conducted with Mr. Der (including two interviews by UC Davis Pacific Regional Humanities Center’s Phong Chau in November 2004, and Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation’s Executive Director Eddie Wong in June 2010).

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Din (Gong Bow Gwun), Hew : Not one, not two, but three paper names! by Grant Din
Year of Arrival 1912

Gong Bow Gwun, later known as Hew Din, came over from China as Ow Luen in 1912 on the SS Manchuria, which docked in San Francisco on August 15, 1912. He received his Certificate of Identity on September 7, 1912 after three weeks on Angel Island. Like many Chinese immigrants trying to come over during the Chinese Exclusion Acts, he came over as a son of a native born American citizen, which if true would mean he was immigrating legally. His paper father was from Namhoi, in Guangdong Province; in reality, he was from a village called Lok Cheung in the Fah Yuen district, now known as Huadu or Hua Xian.

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Dolgirev, Natalie : With Regard to Bobbie - The Story of Nataliya Dolgirev, nee Romancheko, aka “Bobbie” or “Natasha” by Natalie D. and family
Year of Arrival 1917

Natalie D. retells the story of her paternal grandmother and namesake, Nataliya Dolgriev.

Nataliya Dolgirev, also known as “Bobbie”, was our paternal grandmother. She immigrated to the United States during the Russian Revolution, traveling from Russia via Harbin, China and then to Vancouver, Canada by ship, before she arrived by train in the San Francisco Bay Area. We called her "Bobbie" because when we were little, growing up in Santa Rosa, California we did not speak Russian and could not say "babushka", the Russian word for "grandmother," so our parents taught us to call her "Bobbie."

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Dong, Kingman : Angel Island Memories by Dong Kingman
Year of Arrival 1911

Dong Kingman, the internationally renowned artist, was born in Oakland Chinatown on March 31, 1911. When he was five years old, his father sold his clothing store and moved the family to Hong Kong. When he was 18 years old, his father decided to send the children back to the United States.

The following chapter, “Arrived But Not Landed,” taken from Dong Kingman’s autobiography, Paint the Yellow Tiger, describes his experience at the Angel Island Immigration Station.

We wish to thank Sterling Publishing Company, Inc. for allowing us to use this chapter.

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Emayan, Kumar : Escape Through Education by Meagan Travlos
Year of Arrival 1997

Kumar Emayan was born in Point Pedro, Sri Lanka on September 1, 1961.  Born to educators, a principal for a mother and chemistry professor for a father, the importance of education to a successful life was forefront growing up.  He attended the local schools through high school and because of his affluent parents, was able to leave Sri Lanka to attend the University of London in England, leaving behind his younger siblings and parents.  He now lives in Berkeley, California in the United States.  Mr. Emayan received his Ph.D. from the Imperial College at the University of London and is a research scientist at a pharmaceutical company that makes drugs to combat pulmonary fibrosis.

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Eng, James L. : James L. Eng’s Odyssey by James L. Eng
Year of Arrival 1931

Our ancestral home was in Fook Lim Village in Hoysan, AKA Taishan, county in Quangdong Province, China.  The village is approximately sixty five miles west of Hong Kong.

My grandfather, Ng Ming Sun, left his wife and two young sons to return to Mexico for the second time. During his first visit, he realized that Mexico would not serve his future. His new plan was to work in the United States to help his family and later, retire to China.

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Enriquez, Rodolfo : Enríquez’s Journey to the United States by Karen Correa
Year of Arrival 1988

I know Rodolfo Enríquez because he is my mother’s brother. I had never had a conversation with my uncle about his journey to the United States, which is why I chose Rodolfo Enríquez. After interviewing my uncle I realized that although his experience is unique, it is also part of a larger immigrant experience. Interviewing my uncle made me proud to be part of an immigrant family and it also motivated me to be successful and fulfill the American dream.

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Estrada Senior, Genaro : Welcome To Santa Ana, California : Genaro's Coming to America by Alexina Estrada
Year of Arrival 1973

Author's Note: Genaro Estrada Sr. is my grandfather. Growing up, I always wanted to know about his journey from Mexico to America. I was always told that I didn’t need to know. As I got older, I told him that I do need to know because his story is also a part of who I am. My grandpa agreed and sat down with my grandma and me to share his story. Thank you to my grandpa and my grandma for sitting down with me to speak with me, and especially to my grandpa for sharing his story with me.

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Felipe, Eliseo : Angel Island Profile: Eliseo Felipe by Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation
Year of Arrival 1933

Eliseo Felipe, a 100 year-old retired serviceman, shares his journey to the United States and his pride in becoming an American.

At the age of seven, Eliseo learned to work on the fields to support his family in the Philippines. He immigrated to the United States in 1933 where he met his brother and uncles who worked on the farms in Salinas, California.

Over the years Eliseo held many jobs across California, working as a farmer, bellman, and eventually a serviceman for the United States Army.

Currently, Eliseo is retired and tends to his garden at his house in Salinas, CA. He recently celebrated his 100th Birthday with his wife, four children, and grandchildren.

This film was Produced by Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation.


AIISF received the sad news that former Angel Island detainee, Eliseo Felipe passed away on October 8, 2014 at the age of 102.

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Fong, Hong May : A Life's Adventure of a Paper Daughter: Fong Hong May (Helen Fong) by Calvin Fong
Year of Arrival 1925

After the death of Fong Poy’s (aka Fong Wan) second wife, Fannie Ng in 1924, he didn’t trust his own instincts in selecting another wife.  He decided to have a traditionally-arranged marriage through his parents in China, and requested his mother and sisters to select a young woman who would be compatible with his strong (albeit, stubborn) character.  Since his family believed in horoscopes, they most likely consulted the Chinese astrological charts and horoscopes of prospective brides for mutual compatibility. They interviewed several eligible girls from the nearby villages and decided on a young woman from the Lee clan.  Back-and-forth negotiations ensued between the two families, with probing questions from the Lee family concerning Fong Poy’s character, demeanor and ability to care for his new wife.  After an agreement was made, Fong Poy gave a large dowry to the Lee family as per Chinese custom.  The selected maiden was the envy of her friends and other eligible girls because the chosen one would marry a prosperous “wah que” (overseas Chinese) living in America.

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Fong, Jimmy Mee Ning : Angel Island Story by Madeleine Fong
Year of Arrival 1936

Jimmy Ning Fong (aka Fong Mee Ning) of Sacramento, California thinks his Angel Island experience did not have much of an effect on him.  He can recall it well and likes to start with the day he first left his home in China. 

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