Date of Award

2011

Level of Access

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Liberal Studies

Advisor

Ann K. Schonberger

Second Committee Member

Mazie Hough

Third Committee Member

Renate Klein

Abstract

This master's project explores the lives of Chinese women restaurant workers and owners working in the greater Bangor area. I became involved in this research in 2003 when I stepped into the Chinese restaurant Noodles looking for employment. I found employment and I also happened upon a different world, a place where two cultures were situated. I became curious about one of the cooks at the restaurant named Lori. She spoke limited English and I was curious to know about her life. I was also curious about the owner of Noodles. At that time it was Lilian Lo and she owned Oriental Jade as well. I began asking questions such as what was life like for Chinese women in the Chinese restaurant. What kind of work were they doing? How did they happen to become employed there? I began to interview in the spring of 2005. To date I have done six interviews with Chinese women. Three of them were with owners—all successful business women-and the rest with workers. I decided in the spirit of oral history to turn my research into a readers' theatre. This was important to me to create awareness with my work by providing a glimpse into the Chinese community in Bangor. I wanted the voices of the women that I interviewed to be able to reach an audience outside of the academy. In the summer of 2005 I was involved in coordination with the Maine Folklife Center in a project called "Immigrants and Identity." I participated in a narrative stage with one of the women that I interviewed and there was also an exhibit in the Hudson Museum during the time of Judith Sloan's "Crossing the Boulevard." My purpose in doing this research is to give back to the Chinese restaurant community and also give my informants a living record of their own histories.

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