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Chinese Voices

An hour-long screening of video vignettes followed by a question and answer session with digital journalists.

April 10, 2008 12:00am

DATE: Thursday, April 10, 2008
TIME: 4:00 PM
FORMAT: Film Screening with Question and Answer session

A look at Chinese living an American experience in San Francisco, and those in the Pearl River Delta city of Guangzhou -- all forging new identities as they search for opportunity, equity and meaning.
Separated by the Pacific Ocean, linked by cultural roots, nurtured by generations of migration and interchange, people in America and China consider new answers to old questions: Which society is more modern? More competitive? More comfortable? These are stories of ordinary people who follow their values on personal journeys that are wholesome, joyous and distressing.

San Francisco

Artistic Mixes by Laurie Burkitt

For more than 150 years, generations of Chinese immigrants have come to America and set up shop.  Their small businesses have multiplied, straying far from laundries and restaurants, to enterprises that more deeply engage new American sensibilities.  Shinmin Li has blended a unique art form with upscale tastes and created a thriving business.

Tradition by Cynthia Dizikes

He moved to San Francisco from southern China as a boy.  He sees himself as an American, but says he still feels a responsibility to his Chinese roots.  Now, Randy Deng wants to start his own family.

Property by Mason Cohn

Owning a home has motivated Americans across generations.  But while a buy-first, think-later culture has put homes out of reach for many Americans, some of San Francisco's Chinese have cracked the real estate game.  Down payments come from the top of the family tree.  It's a story of hard work and shrewd sacrifice.

New Neighbors by Jason Witmer

In a search for affordable housing, many Chinese families have moved into black neighborhoods.  Despite bouts of inflammatory rhetoric and fear, Chinese Americans and African Americans are learning to get along

Fatherhood by Susa Lim

How do you transmit old-country cultural values?  Frank Ung works hard to teach his children Chinese ways and hints at a discovery: his teenage son and daughter are both irretrievably American, and Chinese American.

Missing China by Brian Aguilar

Like most migrants, Xiao Lan Yu came to America in search of a better life.  Slowly, her family's living situation has improved, thanks to hard work and study.  Still, she wonders whether leaving China was the right decision.


New Wealth by Laurie Burkitt

With China's economy growing at about 11 percent a year,  most people remain poor, but a new middle class is emerging – especially in the cities.  Once prodigious savers,  some people are joining a new consumer culture by spending more.  One young woman – with talent, pluck and a good education – savors her buying power and upward mobility.

Separate and Unequal by Brian Aguilar

Over the last 20 years, an estimated 200 million rural Chinese have resettled in the cities they helped build.  In Guangzhou, migrants make up a third of the population. Considered outsiders, the adults face discrimination and inequality.  So do their children: most public schools won't educate them.

AIDS Ward by Mason Cohn

AIDS in China is often transmitted through risky behaviors – mostly shooting drugs and unprotected sex.  But fear of family shame keeps many suffering in secret.  Society's failure to fully confront the stigma and the disease means some patients are left to die alone in hospital beds, bearing the scars of double lives their families could never face.

Remember the Wedding by Susa Lim

More money, fancier dreams and a traditional desire to memorialize a rite of passage have been a boon to wedding photography businesses across China. Couples often put on exotic costumes – Eastern and Western.  Photographer, Han Songlin captures the moment.

Risky Bets by Cynthia Dizikes

For droves of new individual investors in China, buying stocks can be a way to pass the time, or a chance to make a better life. But risk is always there.  Some say they feel stressed out or trapped: sucked into a market that may lead to riches or losses.

Abandoned by Jason Witmer

Some workers who fuel China's manufacturing boom are tossed aside – like broken, but replaceable parts – once they are injured.  Monitors of China's labor practices report that a widespread system of corruption lets companies ignore safety and compensation laws.


The Center for Digital TV and the World, a project of the Tides Center in San Francisco, is supported by gifts from The Skirball Foundation, Sony, Apple, and the Walter and Elise Haas Fund, with support for coverage in China from the Center for Chinese Studies, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, Institute of East Asian Studies, Office of Resources for International and Area Studies, and the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley.