Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Artifacts from Heinlenville for student animation

It is very exciting to now have a few artifacts on hand to start building the history based animation project. Last weekend my daughter and I attended the Spirit of Japantown Festival in San Jose and met with Connie Young Yu. We were able to look at archeological artifacts from the Heinlenville dig. Connie had the great suggestion that I provide the workshop students with magnifying glasses to get a closer look at the objects. It was a great honor for me to meet Connie Young Yu and I had just completed reading her book Chinatown San Jose, USA. I also read an essay of hers in the book Life along the Guadalupe River- an Archeological and Historical Journey. Her writings bring to life the experiences of early Chinese immigrants in San Jose.

Above: Small poreclain bowls. Collectio
n of Connie Young Yu

Above: Chin
ese and United States coins. These coins were found in the money box from Connie Young Yu's grandparent's store, Quong Wo Chan. Collection of Connie Young Yu

Above and below: Bricks from the Heinlenville archeological excavation. These bricks are from 1887! They were probably created by Chinese labor. The above brick is from the steps of the Ng Shing Gung Temple. There is a recreation of this temple (using many original elemnents) at the San Jose History Park.

The a
bove brick is from 34 Cleveland Avenue, the site of the Quong Wo Chan store.The name of this general store meant Peaceful, Splendid Place.

I look forward to sharing these artifacts with the children.
Below is a more detailed description of this project.

This workshops series explores the history of San Jose's Heinlenville and Japantown. Students at two Santa Clara County schools will work with clay and paper to recreate archeological dig artifact fragments which they will transform into whole objects. The objects will be animated and transformed to tell an intimate and personal story that brings the history of these communities to life.

Heinlenville was a walled community created in response to arson and was the last of six San Jose Chinatowns. John Heinlen was a German immigrant who established himself in San Jose as a businessman and a farmer. He assiseted the Chinese by building a walled community for them after a sereis of arson attacks reduced thier community to ashes. San Jose's Japantown sprung up to surround Heinlenville. Japantown abruptly disappeared when Japanese Americans were interned during WWII. Japantown emerged again in the same location when some families returned to the area after Internment.
Archeologists form the Anthropological Studies Center at Sonoma State Univeristy and local San Jose historians worked with the Redevelopment Agency of the City of San Jose to unearth selected areas of Helinlenville and early Japantown.

The workshop series will culmulate in five minute films exploring the lives fo Chinese and Japanese people who worked in the agricultural industries of San Jose in the late 1800's to the mid 1900's. The exploration will be accomplished through the study of artifact fragements uncovered in recent excavations. The benefits of the workshop series are:
1. Exposure to the many stepped process of stop motion animation
2. Team Building and problem solving skills through an engaging and fun artistic endeavor
3.Enhancement of visual and verbal communication skills
4. Introduction to archeology through hands-on use of archeological dig artifacts and the reading of archeological research literature.
5. Knowledge of local California history

This workshop series will be conducted at two schools at far ends of Santa Clara County after Star Testing in May.

At Horace Cureton Elementary School of Alum Rock, San Jose, 84% of the students are Hispanic and many have argricultural labor roots. The family histories of Chinese and Japanese laborers working in the strawberry fields and canneries of the late 1800's to mid 1900's may resonate with the children. This will heighten their cultural understanding and enrich them with the ability to see common threads of experience in different cultures.

At Stevens Creek Elementary School of Cupertino 63% of the students are Asian and many of these are first and second generation Asian American children of highly educated parents working in technology industries. Learing about past Asian immigrants who came to work in very different conditions will increase their appreciation for past immigrant experiences and the ground they paved for future generations.

I am now trying to find funding to bring these workshops to life in the spring. Last year we were able to obtain a grant from the Alum Rock Education Foundation for material costs for my animation workshops at Horace Cureton. I am hoping to identify and target a few more grant sources so that this is not an entirely volunteer endeavor.