Asian Literature and Immigrant Experience Photo Journal Reading Themes

A Fourth of July Ellis Island Photo Journal Special

This is the first time that we are celebrating Fourth of July with family here in the States. As our ‘homebase’ this time around is in Vegas, I am anticipating that there would be fireworks, pomp, glamour, and panache as people celebrate this important holiday. Rather than do a book review, I thought that it would be lovely to celebrate today’s occasion with a photo-fest from my recent visit to Ellis Island in New York – perfect as well given our bimonthly theme on the Festival of Asian Literature and the Immigrant Experience. Enjoy the photos!

Island of Tears, Island of Hope – Ellis Island, New York, June 2012

“Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.” 
― Franklin D. Roosevelt

“The truth is, immigrants tend to be more American than people born here.” 
― Chuck Palahniuk, Choke

“And then it occurs to me. They are frightened. In me, they see their own daughters, just as ignorant, just as unmindful of all the truths and hopes they have brought to America. They see daughters who grow impatient when their mothers talk in Chinese, who think they are stupid when they explain things in fractured English. They see that joy and luck do not mean the same to their daughters, that to these closed American-born minds “joy luck” is not a word, it does not exist. They see daughters who will bear grandchildren born without any connecting hope passed from generation to generation.” 
― Amy Tan, The Joy Luck Club

“As we all came to discover the limitations of assimilation, we grew closer as a family” 
― Miguel Syjuco

“Once again she would arrive at a foreign place. Once again be the newcomer, an outsider, the one who did not belong. She knew from experience that she would quickly have to ingratiate herself with her new masters to avoid being rejected or, in more dire cases, punished. Then there would be the phase where she would have to sharpen her senses in order to see and hear as acutely as possible so that she could assimilate quickly all the new customs and the words most frequently used by the group she was to become a part of–so that finally, she would be judged on her own merits.” 
― Laura Esquivel, Malinche

“Recognize yourself in he and she who are not like you and me.” 
― Carlos Fuentes

“Poor Father, I see his final exploration. He arrives at the new place, his hair risen in astonishment, his mouth and eyes dumb. His toe scuffs a soft storm of sand, he kneels and his arms spread in pantomimic celebration, the immigrant, as in every moment of his life, arriving eternally on the shore of his Self.” 
― E.L. Doctorow, Ragtime

“Whenever he is discouraged, I tell him that if I can survive on three continents, then there is no obstacle he cannot conquer. While the astronauts, heroes forever, spent mere hours on the moon, I have remained in this new world for nearly thirty years. I know that my achievement is quite ordinary. I am not the only man to seek his fortune far from home, and certainly I am not the first. Still, there are times I am bewildered by each mile I have traveled, each meal I have eaten, each person I have known, each room in which I have slept. As ordinary as it all appears, there are times when it is beyond my imagination.” 
― Jhumpa Lahiri, Interpreter of Maladies

“I seen hundreds of men come by on the road an’ on the ranches, with their bindles on their back an’ that same damn thing in their heads . . . every damn one of ’em’s got a little piece of land in his head. An’ never a God damn one of ’em ever gets it. Just like heaven. Ever’body wants a little piece of lan’. I read plenty of books out here. Nobody never gets to heaven, and nobody gets no land.” 
― John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

“Not all those who wander are lost.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” 
― Ernest Hemingway

Happy Fourth of July!

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

3 comments on “A Fourth of July Ellis Island Photo Journal Special

  1. Going to NYC & studying immigration, including the African American rush to the north, was one of the final trips I took with my students, Myra. We spent an entire day on Ellis Island, among many other places. It’s a good place to find out about immigrants, the good parts as well as those not so good. Happy Independence Day to you, too!


  2. What a spectacular post! Love all the photos and quotes. A perfect way to celebrate the 4th. I’ve never been to Ellis Island and you’ve really made me want to go!


  3. Pingback: A July Round Up: Blogiversary, Photo Journal, Reading Challenges, July Winner for AWB Reading Challenge and Much Much More «

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