Asian Studies Program

Chinese Australia

Stories of individuals in the Chinese community: A comparative approach


Unit title:
Stories of individuals in the Chinese community: A comparative approach

Year level:
Middle secondary

Key learning areas:
Studies of society and environment

Curriculum emphases:
from Studies of Asia: A Statement for Australian Schools:
- developing concepts of Asia.
- challenging stereotypes

Duration:
Three 50 minute lessons

Description:
Students focus on stories describing the experiences of several individuals in the Chinese community and compare them with the experiences of Chinese immigrants in the late 20th century.

Teacher background material:
The following links provide an introduction and overview of the topics covered in this unit:
- Brief History of the Chinese in Australia on the Chinese Heritage of Australian Federation website.
- 'The Guo Brothers and the Yong An Company', 'Kwong Sue Duk and His Family' and 'Leong Har: Successful Banana Merchant' stories on the Chinese Heritage of Australian Federation website.
- 'Wing Hing Long: From Store to Museum' story on the Golden Threads Project website which includes information about Jack Joe Lowe.
- Terry Buggy & John Cates (eds), Race Relations in Colonial Australia: An Enquiry Approach, Nelson, Melbourne, 1982.

Student outcomes:
Students will:
- compare and analyse primary sources
- develop an awareness of the range of experiences of members of the Chinese community in late 19th and early 20th century Australia.
- develop an understanding of some of the conflicts in colonial and early federation society
- consider experiences of later Chinese immigrants with an opportunity to consider to what extent and why stories are different

Materials required:
- Computer/s with access to the internet. Alternatively could use a cached version of the site, paste the database information into a spreadsheet program such as Excel or print relevant pages and copy onto overheads or handouts.

Procedure:
1. Introduction:
Ask students if they know any people of Chinese ancestry living now in Australia. Follow this with a short class discussion of student perceptions of differences in values, expectations and achievements. Briefly discuss the different environments that existed in the late 19th and early 20th century that had an impact on the experience of Chinese immigrants. These could include an examination of policies of exclusion and discrimination such as the White Australia Policy and more recent policies of inclusion and equal opportunity.

2. Explain the task to students
Read about the experiences of earlier Chinese immigrants to Australia. Divide the class into groups and allocate the resources listed below.
- Handout: 'Taam Sze Pui'
- 'The Guo Brothers and the Yong An Company' story on the Chinese Heritage of Australian Federation website
- 'Kwong Sue Duk and His Family' story on the Chinese Heritage of Australian Federation website
- 'Leong Har: Successful Banana Merchant' story on the Chinese Heritage of Australian Federation website
- 'Wing Hing Long: From Store to Museum' story on the Golden Threads Project website which includes information about Jack Joe Lowe.
- 'Louey Ah Mouy' background article on the Chinese Heritage of Australian Federation website.
- 'Mei Quong Tart' information on the Harvest of Endurance Scroll website or 'Mei Quong Tart' background article on the Chinese Heritage of Australian Federation website.

In a group or class discuss the following:
- What are the common factors in their experiences?
- Where are significant differences?
- What might be the possible reasons for these similarities and differences?

3. Comparison of experiences
Students examine the stories of selected Chinese immigrants in the late 20th century.

These could include such individuals such as:
- the late Victor Chang (many entries appear on the internet eg. 'Victor Chang AC (1936-1991)' on the The Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute website
- Chinese immigrants in the local community
- 'Stories' on the NSW Migration Heritage Centre website
- Poems by David Poon in Voices From In Between (edited by Geoff Baker), particularly 'Efforts to enter Australia', 'Hard working years in Australia' and 'Turning heads'. David Poon, who was born in Canton in 1939 and arrived in Australia in 1952.

4. What do these experiences show about Australian settlers in Australia and their experiences?
Students write a short essay addressing these issues:
- Why do people immigrate and what challenges do immigrants of any period of time face?
- What particular challenges have Chinese immigrants to Australia faced?
- Stories of immigrants of the late 19th - early 20th centuries and the various challenges, experiences and outcomes for these people
- Stories of immigrants of the late 20th century and their various challenges, experiences and outcomes.
- How do the two groups of immigrants compare in terms of their stories?
- Which of the two groups has faced fewer obstacles?
- How can students account for these differences?

Extension activities:
1. Further discussion
The following issues can also be discussed using the reading above:
- Taam Sze Pui's account is a short autobiography. What potential problems are there with an account of this nature?
- Mei Quong Tart and Taam Sze Pui were both businessmen. Do they have anything else in common?
- These stories tend to focus on successful businessmen. How were they able to create or use an opportunity to head in this direction?

Acknowledgements:
Terry Buggy & John Cates (eds), Race Relations in Colonial Australia: An Enquiry Approach, Nelson, Melbourne, 1982

Author:
Brendon Meehan

Handout:
Download 'Taam Sze Pui' handout (44kb word document).

Summary of websites used in this lesson:
Chinese Heritage of Australian Federation website - http
- Brief History of the Chinese in Australia - education/history.htm
- Historical backgrounds - education/about.htm

- Stories - stories.htm

Golden Threads Project website - http://amol.org.au/goldenthreads

NSW Migration Heritage Centre website - http://www.migrationheritage.nsw.gov.au

Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute website - http://www.victorchang.com.au