Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation

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IMMIGRANT VOICES

My Life

by Benjamin Fong

Veteran Antioch elementary school teacher, Benjamin Fong, recounts his arrival on Angel Island at age 5, his settlement in Oakland Chinatown, his military service and educational career.


At age five, I came to the United States with my brother, who was 14 years older than me.  The journey is still vivid in my mind due to the contrast between village life and city life.

I remember leaving Hong Kong with color streamers going out from our ship, people waving to us and a lot of fanfare.  I was very impressed by the Golden Gate Bridge as we sailed under it.  I was puzzled by the vehicles not crashing going in opposite directions.

We stayed on Angel Island for about a month.  I remember having to go outside and going down some steps to get to the dining hall.  There were long tables in the dining hall.  The highlight of one dinner was when we shared a bottle of preserved beancakes (foo yee), which our father sent us with other immigrants.

My family lived near Oakland Chinatown.  I attended Lincoln Elementary School for nine years, graduated from Westlake Jr. High and Fremont High in Oakland.  I participated in the Boy Scouts with Troop 45, the oldest troop in the San Francisco bay area.  We were mostly Chinese boys from Lincoln School.

While attending U.C. Berkeley, I lived in Barrington Hall, a University Students Cooperative Association house.  I attended First Presbyterian Church and worked at Lichee Hwon restaurant during my college years.  I graduated and received my Bachelor of Arts degree and my teacher’s credential in 1956.

I spent most of my two years in the U.S. Army stationed in South Korea.

Then I taught elementary school in Antioch, CA for 28 years.  Having retired, I am now tutoring algebra and working part time at Prospect High School, an alternative education school in Antioch.

Carol, whose grandfather worked on the Transcontinental Railroad, and I have three children.  We have five grandchildren, Trstan, Kylie, Ethan, Lindsey, and Sarah, the oldest being nine years old.

My name in the immigration paper is Fong Tew Sang.  Now my business and legal papers use Benjamin Fong.  My friends and associates call me Ben.

My hobbies are fishing and gardening.

Place of Origin
Hong Kong, China

Place of Settlement
Oakland, CA

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